No matter how crazy or inefficient things are in France, socialists and their union sponsors always seek ways to make things worse. Thus, it’s not at all surprising to discover economic lunacy has spread from bookstores to taxis.
Please consider Taxi Wars Erupt in Paris
Parisian taxi drivers get a bad press for being rude, playing loud music, almost never accepting credit cards and turning up for a booked ride with €10 already on the meter. They are also notoriously hard to find.
With just 18,000 vehicles, Paris’ taxi fleet has remained virtually unchanged since the 1950s, while London’s has swelled to around 23,000 black cabs and 40,000 minicabs.
Charles de Gaulle threw in the towel in 1958 after a two-day strike. Right-wing president Nicolas Sarkozy capitulated in 2008 after a drivers staged a three-day “operation escargot”.
Now, however, the undisputed reign of “le taxi parisien” is under threat due to a recent change to the law liberalising so-called “tourist vehicles with chauffeurs”, or VTCs – the French equivalent of minicabs.
Yan Hascoët, the 29-year old CEO of Chauffeur-Prive, started with 20 cars 18 months ago and business is booming. He now has a fleet of 320 vehicles, a client base of 15,000 and is seeing 15 per cent week on week growth.
“Our drivers are dressed in a suit and red tie, they open the door, make you feel at home in the car, doesn’t blast their own music and don’t talk unless talked to – just basic service which is hard to find in France,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
VTCs work on reservations and cannot be hailed in the street. But the advent of smart phone applications using global positioning means cars can turn up almost at once, enraging taxi unions which accuse them of bending the rules.
To stop this, taxi unions are calling for on the government to impose a 15-minute delay between when a customer books a minicab and its arrival.
With a decision expected in the coming weeks, experts said the taxi lobby will pull out all the stops to get its way.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock