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Prague Battles with Its Notorious Taxis, Yet Again

New campaign compares them with the great rip-offs of the communist era.

10 April 2017

Apparently still flummoxed by how to deal with Prague’s famed, overpricing taxis, Prague City Hall is trying a novel approach.

 

According to Prague.TV, one of the signs in a new information campaign says (in English): “These cabs are part of a museum of communism exhibition. Want to experience the totalitarian era? Exorbitant prices for an otherwise cheap service! Be careful or get a trustworthy cab.”

 

Another sign used in the campaign tries a similarly provocative approach: “Do you want to enjoy one of the world's most expensive taxi rides?” the signs asks and then compares the unofficial Prague price per kilometer (11 euros) with the official rate (one euro), Prague.TV reports.

 

Official guidelines and fees for Prague taxis. Screenshot via Praha.eu

 

Various people have gone undercover over the years to show how corrupt some local taxi drivers are. One of the most famous in recent years was young journalist Janek Rubes, who was frequently threatened during his series of broadcasts on the Czech Internet TV site Stream.cz. While he has said that the situation has improved a lot over the past decade, he added that it’s almost guaranteed for foreigners to be ripped off if they dare to take a taxi in one of the downtown touristy locations.

 

 

  • Probably the most famous undercover passenger was former Prague Mayor Pavol Bem, who posed as an Italian tourist, disguised with sunglasses and a fake moustache and goatee back in 2005. He was overcharged around 500 percent, the BBC reported at the time. Despite the stunt, critics charged that real progress was slow in coming.

 

  • After becoming so well-known among the Czech taxi “mafia,” Rubes had to adopt other methods for hunting down overpriced taxis, as this English version of his escapades shows.

 

  • “I have no illusions that this campaign will solve the problem of dishonest taxi drivers; our aim is mainly to warn tourists,” Mayor Adriana Krnacova said on the City Hall website, as reported by Prague.Tv. “That is why we have chosen slightly controversial visuals that should attract attention and also highlight the danger.” Krnacova also wants to push through a law to allow a driver’s licenses to be suspended on suspicion of overcharged even before an investigation has been completed.

 

  • It will be interesting to see how long the signs stay intact, as they will be posted near some of the most suspect places where taxis lie in wait. 
 Compiled by Jeremy Druker
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