The easing of restrictions last week did not affect taxi drivers. They haven’t yet seen a significant increase in the amount of work they have, Zoltán Metál, president of the Hungarian Taxi Association told növekedés.hu.
Due to the long lasting epidemic, taxi drivers are facing an increasingly difficult situation.
Many of those who do not have enough savings have already given up in recent months and stopped transporting passengers. A few drivers have taken on manual jobs, working on construction sites, for example.
It means a tiny bit of help that taxi drivers can also do courier or delivery services transporting food and other consumer goods.
SPAR, for example, announced last month that they would use taxis for food deliveries this year as well.
But the industry is in such big trouble that all that is of little consolation to most drivers.
There are also rumours about some drivers having engaged in illegal business by giving their phone number to customers and asking them to contact them directly if they need a taxi again, bypassing the dispatch centre. In return, they charge lower fares than the official price.
Needless to say, all this goes against the regulations.
Waiting for clubs and bars to open
Last week some of the restrictions were eased slightly; the 8 pm curfew was changed to 10 pm and services like hairdressers can now receive customers again.
However, taxi companies haven’t benefited from these changes.
Unfortunately, the number of passenger journeys hasn’t increased noticeably
Zoltán Metál, president of the Hungarian Taxi Association told növekedés.hu, adding that the first wave of the pandemic was a real shock to the market, because transport organizers and as a result also taxi drivers lost more than half of their customers. Initially, larger companies temporarily reduced their membership fees and also tried to optimize their costs.
As the pandemic has been going on for more than a year, it is now becoming increasingly difficult to keep businesses alive.
While in December 2019 there were more than 7,000 licensed taxis in the capital, today that number is below 5,000.
Since March last year, the number of passenger journeys has fallen by 50-60 percent and so has the revenue, mainly due to movement restrictions, which is clearly reflected in official statistics.
The demand for taxi services is likely to grow only when restaurants, cinemas, sports and tourist centres reopen, along with clubs where people can go and see their friends again.
The situation of taxi drivers is also made worse by the fact that they are facing an increased risk of getting infected. SONLINE reported cases, for example, when people in Kaposvár took a taxi to the ambulance station.
And it also happened that people while ordered to quarantine went shopping by taxi.