Fiumicino, April 28, two in the morning. There are hardly any taxis in line at the exit of the terminal. After more than an hour and a half waiting, one appears and invites two different clients to get into the car: a couple of German tourists and a single man. One in front, the other two behind. “First we leave them and then you. Okay?” As? “Yeah. It is what it is. There are no taxis. That’s how we all win.” general resignation The passenger seatbelt doesn’t work. The meter, of course, is turned off. And the collection of the race is multiplied with a single trip (going from the airport to the center of Rome costs 50 euros and is regulated). The taxi driver puts his foot down on the accelerator. And then he reaches his first destination. Upon arrival, surprise. “They are 70 euros. Card? No, just cash. And he has yet to leave the other.
Despite the scene, the taxi sector in Rome is increasingly controlled and some cooperatives, such as 3570, have managed to bring order. There are more and more organizations of this type and a positive generational change is perceived. But it can still be an odyssey to get on one in the Italian capital. The main problem that users encounter -beyond its scarcity, which increases conflicts- are the tricks to be able to bill in black, whose main engine is cash. The sector tried to ensure that it was not mandatory to have a POS machine to be able to pay by card and the Government was about to approve that this be the case for all payments up to 60 euros. Finally, the idea prevailed that something like this would only contribute to further increasing the underground economy of one of the European countries with the most tax evasion. The customer, in short, has the right to pay by card. But the reality is that a large number of taxis always have the device broken. Or so they say.
An investigation carried out by the Le Iene program (something like the old Fall who falls) revealed this week that Roman taxi drivers are the ones who declared the least income last year. The average, according to the 2021 Government data released by the television show, is 6,240 euros a year declared in Rome. In other words, 520 euros per month, including taxes. That represents half that of Milan (11,411) and less than Naples (9,890). Because? The president of Cooperativa 3570, Loreno Bittarelli, attributes it mainly to the drop in tourism due to covid-19. “During that year and the previous one, Rome, the capital of Italy and the city with the greatest tourist vocation, was hit hardest by the effects of the covid with the consequent and drastic reduction in races throughout the pandemic period.”
Roberto Benigni traveled the streets of the capital in a taxi in a perpetual adventure in that Night on Earth, by director Jim Jarmush. Only in his case, the dangers came from outside. The Roman taxi and its protagonists, more or less unfairly, are world famous. “Most of the taxi drivers who operate correctly are the party harmed by this phenomenon and they cannot be the ones who ensure compliance with the rules. Controls are often not systematic. We can only answer for our actions, which are based on respect for the rules, which each associate must assume. Otherwise, they can be penalized and expelled from the cooperative”, insists Bittarelli.
problems at night
Problems usually appear at night. And at airports. Especially in Ciampino, where an Italian always has a harder time finding a taxi. The preferred customers, of course, are tourists. “It happens a lot, unfortunately. But we are not all like that. And we have to pay a few for that mob, ”explains Mauro (who does not give his real name), a Roman taxi driver as he drops off a client next to the Basilica of San Giovanni Laterano. “This month I will earn 9,000 euros, but I always declare about 1,500 ″, said another driver to the Le Iene program, acknowledging his fraud.
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The sector has always been very belligerent and has waged a battle in recent times against the emergence of Uber. Their political weight is very important and all the mayors of Rome have tried to reach an agreement with them to avoid mobilizations that would blockade the city. The power, in part, is based on the lack of licenses (some 7,800). The sector opposes the expansion: the fewer licences, the more value they acquire. And they have faced anyone who wanted to modify the regulation of the sector, including Mario Draghi himself when he was Prime Minister of Italy. In the last elections, many supported Giorgia Meloni (there are about 40,000 active licenses throughout Italy), who promised to keep them out of the new rules on competition.
Many taxi drivers rebel against this practice, which also occurs in other parts of Italy. In Bologna, Roberto Mantovani wanted to expose this situation in the sector where he works and dedicated himself to posting his income daily on Twitter. In total, in two weeks, with three days off, he billed 5,638 euros: half of what his colleagues had declared for all of 2021. Mantovani then received threats and intimidation. They also flattened the tires of his taxi.
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