(p. A4) Returning to Rome from Naples one Monday afternoon in June , a train trip that takes just over an hour, Daniele Renzoni said that he and his wife waited for more than an hour and a half at Termini station for a cab under a blazing sun.
“Just image a long line of grumbling, frustrated people, complaining, cursing. Hot day, angry tourists, there’s not much else to say,” said Mr. Renzoni, who is retired. “Taxi drivers will tell you there’s too much traffic, too many requests, too much everything, but the fact is, the customer pays.”
The situation is “a disgrace to Italy,” said Furio Truzzi, president of the consumer rights group Assoutenti, one of several associations that protested the shortage.
. . .
Thanks to the taxi lobby, ride-sharing services are almost nonexistent in Italy, where Uber is the only platform in use, with many restrictions.
The government lost an opportunity for real change, said Andrea Giuricin, a transportation economist at a research center at the University of Milan Bicocca. He said the best way to meet consumer needs would be to increase the number of licenses for Italy’s chauffeur services, known as N.C.C., which work with Uber.
“It’s very difficult in Italy” because “there isn’t a culture of liberalization in general,” creating little opportunity for competition, said Professor Giuricin. Taxis “are a small but powerful lobby” that easily influences politics, “which is very weak” in Italy, he said.
Angela Stefania Bergantino, a professor of transportation economics at the University of Bari, pointed out that previous governments had tried to open up the taxi market. But they failed.
“The problem is that taxis are regulated by municipal governments, which can find themselves captive in the sense that it is difficult for City Hall to implement policies that the cab lobby doesn’t like,” she said. “These are lobbies that have effective strike tools,” like wildcat strikes or traffic blockages that can paralyze entire cities, she said.
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Above all, though licenses are issued by the city, they can then be sold by the drivers, for sums that can reach 250,000 euros, or about $276,000, depending on the city — a retirement nest egg for many. With an influx of new licenses, the value of an existing license would depreciate.
City administrators fear cabbies could revolt and strike if the status quo changes. “If I decide to issue new licenses,” said Eugenio Patanè, Rome’s city councilor in charge of transportation, “I’m going to find 1,000 taxis blocking traffic in Piazza Venezia,” the downtown Rome square that taxi drivers habitually clog while protesting.
For the full story, see:
(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date Aug. 10, 2023, and has the title “Getting a Taxi in Italy Is Too Hard. Fixing That Is Not Easy.”)