WHEN IS A TAXI NOT A TAXI?
We all know and can identify a legal taxi as it displays the taxi sign on its roof and a licence plate number as issued by the relevant Town Hall on the side. This can be identified such as LM 249 for example. In order to obtain this licence, the taxi and its drivers have to adhere to the laws applicable to Servico Publico, this is identified by a plaque normally displayed on the rear of the vehicle in white as SP.
When you are taking a journey in a legal taxi, you should be safe in the knowledge that, if the unforeseen happens i.e. an accident or injury to you or fellow passengers the taxi has the appropriate and correct insurance and licences that would mean that you would be covered by the insurance.
The use of illegal taxis has been well documented over the years and numerous people have fallen foul to being on the wrong side of the law. A recent event in the mainland has highlighted this use of illegal taxis. A legal taxi had been booked and was subsequently cancelled two days before. The taxi driver became suspicious and decided to do some surveillance of his own. He calculated the appropriate time of arrival of his “fare” and waited. He saw the family arrive in a minibus with a fake transport company owned by a private individual.
Clearly he reported this to the Guardia Civil who investigated and found that the company nor the driver had the appropriate paperwork and that the vehicle was not a licenced taxi, nor was the insurance correct as it did not cover “hire and reward” i.e. carriage of fare paying passengers. The driver did not have a work contract for driving nor a rental contract for the property he was allegedly renting to the family.
In accordance with the law the vehicle was impounded until such time as the legal owner provided the correct paperwork to the Ministry of Transport. Clearly in this case its highly unlikely that the owner will be able to do so, as they were working and providing services on the black market without legal work, rental contracts, licences or any relevant papers.
This particular case resulted in a fine of 4.001 euros, a rather costly exercise and not a happy start to a holiday for the family either.
There are many “illegal taxis” that operate in the mainland and certainly here on the island too. Some are very blatant and seem to feel that they are above the law, and then there are others who are more discreet and just receive money for petrol for such a journey; however, in the eyes of the Spanish Law this still constitutes an illegal taxi journey.
All legal taxis have to undergo more stringent inspections than normal cars and the drivers are monitored, licenced and approved to ensure consistency of service. All of this comes at a price and the taxi/driver has to pay a substantial premium to be able to carry passengers. This is after all is said and done their livelihood and therefore they are not treated in any way different to other companies/employees in different sectors.
The collaboration between the police and taxi drivers and of course the public means that many more illegal taxis are being caught and with the implementation of new laws, the police now have the powers to immobilise the vehicles and impound them until such time as the owners has all the correct paperwork in order and the police are satisfied that the passengers being carried are being done so I accordance with the law.
Whilst taking an “illegal taxi” may seem like a good deal and is often cheaper, you must remember that in the event of any problem you have no recourse or any way of making a complaint. With a legal taxi, as with all other legal business you have the right to ask for an “Hoja de reclamaciones” to proceed with any complaint you may have to make. Also, you are safe in the knowledge that should an accident or serious injury or death occur the insurance is correct and will pay out.