More on the “free taxi to A&E” debate

Following on from my comments about Spectrum FM carping on about free taxis to A&E, I was interested to note that early next month a new law (ok, ok, regional decree, whatever) redefining the taxi sector in Andalucía comes into force. We’ve been waiting for this since 2003, by the way.

First of all, the bit about taxis being free to A&E:

Checking the Real Decreto 763/1979, de 16 de marzo, por el que se aprueba el Reglamento nacional de los servicios urbanos e interurbanos de transportes en automóviles ligeros – nope, nothing about free trips.
Carry on down to the autonomous level: Ley 2/2003, de 12 de mayo, de Ordenación de los Transportes Urbanos y Metropolitanos de Viajeros en Andalucía. Uh, huh. (Anyway, that’s going out of the window in a few days time, as far as taxis go). Checked out a couple of municipal decrees (Granada and Seville) regulating taxis: nope. Asked a taxi driver: nope, no clue (but he didn’t seem best pleased by the question, either, so it’s possible that he’s hiding something).

The only think I can find is that townhall could, in theory, apply special tariffs to special routes, so it’s possible in some left wing town of Spain the Mayor has decreed that all trips to the emergency room are free, but I doubt it. So, no, in answer to your questions, I haven’t a clue why Spectrum FM is on about this.

Anyway, the new law.

It’s a sharp break from other regional laws, in as much as it specifies that one taxi driver = one license, instead of other laws which specify one taxi = one license. What’s the difference? Well, the difference is that now you either use the license or it reverts back to the townhall for re-distribution. This means that we should see an end to the practise of people getting rich by sitting on taxi licenses, and see more taxis in the street.

Before, if you decided you didn’t want to carry on being a taxi driver, you could sell your car and keep the license until you decided you wanted to sell it on. In some areas, taxi drivers had several licenses in order to have fewer cars on the streets and thus drive up prices. Since taxi licenses are allocated by head of population in the town (ie, 5000 people is one license or whatever) the townhall couldn’t just issue more licenses. This is why it’s so damned hard to get a taxi in Mojácar.

Now, if you don’t use a license over a period of time, it expires. And, if you die, your relatives have the chance to carry on with the license, or else it expires (15 months, but hey). Only private individuals are allowed taxis licenses.

The new law also stipulates that all taxis must have meters (some 2,200 taxis still don’t, it seems) and that taxis are allowed greater flexibility in entering neighbouring territories.

The new law also encourages the setting up of taxi hotlines and federations, allowing the consumer to call one hotline to get a taxi (it was technically alegal under the old law: ie, people did it because there was no law saying you couldn’t, but it wasn’t regulated). If no taxi in your area is available, the hotline is allowed to bring in a taxi from a different hotline or even a different territory in order to serve you.

So yes, taxi service should improve in theory.

By the way: the reason it is so difficult to get a taxi with more than four seats is because the law specifies that taxis must have 5 seats (including the drivers). I assume that in 1979 a five seater car was a big ‘un. In order to get a license for a larger vehicle, you have to A) convince the Authorities there is a need for a larger taxi in the region and B) convince Authority that you are the chap who should have that special license. It seems that the new regional law is somewhat more flexible on the matter.

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