Taxi drivers threaten strikes and protests against free buses
Of the 81 million euros that the General State Budget are allocating to subsidise free public transport from January 1st in the Canary Islands for regular users with a Bono card, the taxi sector will not receive a single euro. Taxi drivers across the islands have expressed their anger and say they are being "discriminated against" in times of crisis and demand that they are taken into account in anti-crisis policies.
The president of the Association of Autonomous Taxi Workers (ATAT), Jean Charles Chabot, says that they are opposed to the administrations facilitating the use of public transport, but they do not understand that the definition of this strategy does not take the taxi sector into account.
They believe that the aid proposed for bus users could also be applied in some way to support taxis, but not in the same way as there is no travel Bono for taxis.
"One of the possibilities that could be considered is the activation of vouchers for the elderly or for people with reduced mobility," explained Chabot, "they could be five-euro cards for example and vouchers could be given for ten or fifteen trips, so in this way, you are helping citizens. Taxi drivers would not charge more for providing these services, but the great beneficiary would be passengers”.
ATAT believes that it is still too early to know what impact the launch of free buses will have, particularly in the capital of Tenerife and the capital of Gran Canaria. "There are some people who think that this will benefit the buses, but others say that the buses will leave more people behind because they will not be able to accommodate all passengers, which could benefit taxis indirectly”.
The spokesperson for ASPROTAC, Gorky Bethencourt, also believes that a rebound effect could be produced in favour of taxis, as proved by the 50% discount for Bonos on buses which was launched in September, as it lead to "people being tired of waiting at bus stops because the buses were full and didn’t stop, so in the end, they took a taxi".
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