ROME, Aug 4 (Reuters) – Italy’s government is set to issue more taxi licences as it moves to tackle a cab shortage that has irked tourists and residents across its biggest cities, a draft decree seen by Reuters showed on Friday.
The draft rules, which cabinet is expected to approve on Monday, allow local municipalities to release additional permits “to cope with an extraordinary increase in demand” linked to major events or high numbers of tourists.
Large cities or those home to international airports will be able to increase their licences by up to 20%, the draft shows, saying current taxi drivers will have privileged access to the new permits which will last up to two years.
Rome, along with other Italian cities, has long experienced shortages of cabs, with the powerful taxi lobbies resisting efforts to issue more of the valuable licences or fully embrace the arrival of ride-hailing competitors like Uber (UBER.N) and Lyft (LYFT.O).
Industry Minister Adolfo Urso said in a statement the decree would pave the way to significant reform of the sector.
“(This) will have to lead to greater efficiency and transparency, also in view of the significant growth in the influx of foreign tourists and the great challenges that await us in the coming years, from the Jubilee of 2025 to the Milan-Cortina (Winter) Olympics” in 2026, Urso said.
The Italian capital has just 7,800 taxis, with no new licences issued since 2006, and an additional 1,000 executive private hire cars, which also serve as top-end Uber vehicles.
By contrast, London has some 19,000 taxis plus 96,000 private hire vehicles, according to 2020 data, while Paris has 18,500 taxis and at least 30,000 licences for private vehicles.
Earlier this week, Italy’s antitrust watchdog said it had started gathering information on the malfunctioning taxi services, stressing issues such as waiting times, acceptance of card payments and the correct use of taxi meters.
Reporting by Elvira Pollina; writing by Angelo Amante
Editing by Keith Weir
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