NEWS

Cabbies to mend their manners?

While Athens taxi drivers yesterday staged a 24-hour strike for higher fares and unrestricted access to bus lanes, today the government is to table a bill in Parliament that would force cabbies to buy new vehicles and improve their manners as far as customers are concerned. The draft law prepared by the Ministry of Transport imposes an eight-year maximum age limit (nine years for vehicles with larger engines) on taxis in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras and Larissa, upon expiration of which the vehicles must be replaced. This must be done before March 1, 2004. The limits will be considerably less stringent in the rest of the country. And all taxis will have to be fitted with air conditioning. Furthermore, a central register of taxi drivers will be created, on which behavior – such as refusing to take on, ejecting, selecting or being rude to passengers or not following their route instructions – will be listed. Repeat offenders will lose their license for six months, 12 months – or forever (15 offenses). The bill also lays down the rules for taxi owners to form collectives.