This summer, many tourists and residents in top Italian destinations struggled to find taxis. Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are heavily restricted in Italy, leading to long taxi lines, extended wait times for taxi dispatch numbers, and unavailability of taxis through apps.
The Italian government recently introduced measures to address the taxi shortage. These measures aim to simplify procedures for issuing new taxi licenses, including temporary licenses for peak periods and major events. Major cities and those with international airports will also be allowed to increase the number of licenses by 20%, but new permits must be for electric or hybrid cars.
Transportation experts argue that these measures fall short of the necessary overhaul needed in the industry. The taxi lobby has significant influence over local and national politics, making it difficult to introduce competition and liberalization. Previous attempts to open up the taxi market have been unsuccessful due to the strong influence of taxi associations and the potential for strikes and traffic blockages.
The new measures have been met with criticism from industry officials who believe they don’t address the underlying issue of urban mobility. Italy has fewer taxis per capita compared to other European countries. The competition watchdog is also examining the industry for possible reforms.
Taxi drivers argue that they face various challenges, including traffic congestion, increased tourism, and inefficient public transportation. They believe that improving local public transportation should be a priority before considering issuing more licenses. They also highlight that the critical shortages only occur for a few months each year and that demand slows down during winter.
The value of taxi licenses is a concern, as they can be sold by drivers for significant amounts. The introduction of new licenses could depreciate the value of existing licenses, affecting the retirement plans of many drivers. City administrators fear that issuing new licenses could lead to strikes and protests by taxi drivers.