Traffic in the vicinity of Prague’s Ruzyně airport was disrupted throughout the day by a taxi-drivers’ blockade on Wednesday. The taxi drivers’ union said it was protesting against the conditions of a contract between taxi operators and the airport and would continue to block traffic every work day until the deal was reviewed. Fifty taxis blocked traffic around the airport on Wednesday making life difficult for thousands of passengers. They cleared the way only for ambulances and fire-crews. It is not clear how long the protest will last. Prague Airport management said it was surprised by the move.
For years Prague City Hall has been doing battle with the city's taxi drivers, whose reputation for overcharging passengers has become blight on the city's name. Now that battle has taken a new turn. A Prague court has ruled that taxi drivers do not have to respect a maximum fare per kilometre set by the city's authorities.
The authorities in Prague have launched a system aimed at stopping taxi drivers overcharging passengers. Signs bearing the English words Fair Place appear at taxi ranks where special officials are meant to guarantee that drivers do not charge more than the set fare of CZK 28 (USD 1.40) a kilometre. Almost half of the city's 121 taxi ranks already have so-called administrators. One exception is a rank on Old Town Square, where the administrator is in a legal dispute with Prague Town Hall after being fired for failing to prevent overcharging.
Ask any tourist about his impressions of Prague and you will get answers like beautiful architecture, beautiful women, great beer, and...expensive taxis. City Hall has been fighting a seemingly endless battle to stop taxi drivers from overcharging. But now the dispute between the drivers and the authorities has reached an entirely new level and one man has even ended up in hospital.