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Talking Taxi

The research found that taxis are the most popular method of transportation to and from hotels and therefore for tourism, these first experiences are key to a favorable impression of the city. London cabbies are considered the friendliest, too with 16% of the vote, while Parisian drivers were considered the rudest in the world.

Yikes!

New York drivers are the worst, according to the poll, while Athens taxis are considered to be the filthiest, and despite London’s vote for being number one, are also the most expensive, with Paris in third place after Copenhagen for cost. London cabbies also have the best knowledge of their city, and they are thought to be the safest, but guess what? Paris was named worst city for availability.

Yikes again!

I’m not happy to report this, but there IS good news on the horizon. We’re all about to see some major changes to bring Paris taxis up to the standard Londoners and New Yorkers seem to already enjoy

.

First of all, the French Minister for the Interior, Michèle Alliot-Marie, has just been presented the final plans for a new red-green lighting system, which should improve the current system where the rooftop light indicating occupied or not is ambiguous. How many times have you tried to hail a taxi in Paris only to discover that it already has riders inside?

Secondly, the taxi drivers will be required to issue an itemized bill for the ride, designed to instill trust between the industry and the patrons. Finally, you’ll know exactly how much you’re being charged for the ride, the baggage and the value added tax (TVA, 5.5% for passengers, 19.6% for baggage).

Thirdly, the plan is designated to have 20,000 new taxis in Paris before the end of 2012 (currently there are 16,400), with 2,400 added to the fleet before the end of this year. That should greatly reduce the queuing up at taxi stands.

The drivers will be bearing the cost of these changes — about €400 for the new lights and €1,000 for the new meters. There is a grace period for the drivers to comply, but there are also plans underway to change their color to something more ‘elegant.’ Stéphane Rousselet, president of the Union Nationale des Industries du Taxi (UNIT) said “The black cabs of London have set the example,” but I have a feeling they will choose something more keeping with the Paris landscape…not too far from the “greige” of my 17th-century stairwell the youngest Parisians seem to love!

Yikes a third time!

Personally, I’ll be praying for a bright burgundy red…or any color that will add some life to the cobblestoned streets and stand out from the rest of the Paris street fray.


Photo by Susi Gott

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris

P.S. Be sure to read the report on yesterday’s Parler Paris Après Midi at /parlerparis/apresmidi.html and note that next month, the gathering will take place on July 7, 2009 (Exceptional due to Bastille Day on July 14th) and we won’t be meeting in August.

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