State-of-the-art taxis launched

The first of a fleet of Internet-linked taxis, with electronic navigation facilities and security cameras that will allow passengers to pay by credit card and receive receipts, was officially launched yesterday in a ceremony attended by Transport Minister Christos Verelis, who promised legislation to improve taxi services by 2004. At present, only 10 vehicles belonging to the Cosmos radio taxi company have been fitted with the necessary equipment, which in two months’ time will be in use in 250 taxis. There will be no increase – for the time being – in fares. «Soon Athenians will encounter this system much more often in the city’s taxis,» Verelis said. He also promised to make public this week draft legislation aimed at encouraging taxi-owners to form companies and cooperatives. The minister conceded that «much remains to be done» regarding taxi services. He said a series of checks on Athens taxis over the past few days found that 48 percent of some 500 vehicles inspected were over the legal exhaust fume limit. Some 24 percent of private cars were also found to be over the limit.