Sofia taxi drivers demand fare hikes as city hall mulls price thresholds
Several dozen taxi drivers gathered outside Sofia city hall on November 28 for a protest to demand higher fare prices, an issue that the municipal council is expected to tackle in the near future.
Currently, Sofia has a regulation that sets the maximum fare amount that taxis can charge – 1.30 leva a kilometre during day time and 1.95 leva a km at night, but no minimum thresholds, even though it is required by law to do so.
The deputy chairperson of the Sofia municipal council transport committee Zafir Zarkov told Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) that a proposal updating the existing regulation would be tabled in the near future and the council would make a decision after a debate.
There were three options under consideration – setting the minimum threshold at the lowest price currently charged by any taxi company (0.58 leva a km), setting the threshold at the level charged by most companies (0.77-0.78 leva) or meeting the demands of the taxi drivers trade union.
Raina Dimitrova, head of the national taxi drivers trade union, told Bulgarian National Television that the union’s demand was of 0.98 leva a km during daytime and 1.14 leva a km at night.
Zafirov appeared to shoot down such a drastic increase, telling BNR that this was 30 per cent higher than the median fares charged by taxi companies, “which would, in practice, lead to the municipal council sanctioning an administrative increase and I am not certain how adequate that is in a market economy.”
Dimitrova’s counter-argument was that current prices were set in 2011 and have not been updated since.
Another request made by the trade union was to update the exiting map of taxi stands, creating new ones in areas with high foot traffic and eliminating those where there were few people.
Furthermore, the trade union re-iterated its older request for taxis to be allowed to use the bus lanes reserved for public transportation, though this was outside the city hall’s purview as it would require legislative amendments to be passed by Parliament.
(Taxi drivers congregate outside Sofia city hall on November 28 to demand higher fare prices, screengrab from Bulgarian National Television.)