San Sebastián has "an obvious problem", says its mayor, Eneko Goia, due to the lack of taxis during summer weekends and when relevant events are held in the city.
It happened last Saturday after the closing gala of the International Film Festival.
Under the rain, the stop on the San Sebastian Boulevard remained empty for a long time, while a large line of people awaited the arrival of the taxis.
The same thing happened during the Jazzaldia, in July, or in the celebrations of the Big Week, in August.
The taxi sector admits that there are "specific moments" in which they cannot meet all the demand, says Roberto Azofra, president of the Vallina taxi company.
The 308 authorized taxis are not enough to attend the peaks with a high influx of customers.
The City Council, given the numerous complaints received,
The solution to this problem has been provided precisely by taxi drivers in response to the ultimatum given by the Consistory.
Faced with the intention of the local Administration to increase the number of licenses allowed ―the 308 permits granted have remained unchanged since 2008―, the union has proposed the creation of a “special regime zone”, which would allow the taxi service to be reinforced in San Sebastián with drivers from neighboring municipalities during periods of high demand for taxis in the city.
The parties are already moving in this direction.
Taxi drivers are not willing to accept the granting of new licenses, as proposed by the City Council.
Borja Musons, president of the Basque Taxi Federation, believes that increasing them "is a very populist measure, but it has the drawback that it would allow the service to be covered at specific times, with a large surplus for many months of the year."
Azofra points out that the problem of the lack of taxis occurs mainly in the summer months: “What do we do with all the licenses during the rest of the year?
There would not be profitability for all”.
Of the 308 licenses in force in San Sebastian, the City Council ensures that there are about 70 that are not operational.
The person in charge of Vallina assures that this data "is not real" and that the number of inactive licenses - mainly from retired professionals who have not managed to sell their permit - is around 40 (approximately 15% of the total).
During the last four or five years, the transfer of licenses has stagnated in the city, largely due to the high price that is stipulated (220,000 euros) to complete this process.
Taxis from other towns
The solution to the punctual shortage of taxis in San Sebastián is, according to Azofra, to "reach an agreement with the taxi drivers of the nearby towns, with these municipalities and with the Gipuzkoa Provincial Council", because "it would allow the service to be reinforced" during the days of high demand for taxis in the city, where there are 28 stops.
Some hotels have had to resort to private drivers to transport their clients.
The taxi drivers argue that the works that are being carried out in the center of the city, the traffic jams that form during peak hours and the "end effect of the pandemic" are "making it difficult for the taxi driver to work and prevent them from offering a good service at certain times." ”, says the person in charge of Vallina.
In San Sebastián it is not allowed to take a taxi that circulates empty;
It is only possible to do so at a stop or by calling the two companies that operate, Taxi Donosti and Vallina.
The city also has yet to renew the municipal ordinance that regulates the taxi service and has not been updated since it was approved in 1997.
The Gipuzkoa Provincial Council welcomes the fact that a supra-municipal service is also offered in San Sebastián, as is the case in other areas of Gipuzkoa.
Taxi drivers from Hondarribia and Irun share the task to serve airport users;
The same happens with the municipalities where the main cider houses are concentrated, such as Hernani and Astigarraga.
Ander Iturri, director of the Mobility Department of the Gipuzkoa Provincial Council, is in favor of establishing a "joint provision area" for taxis in the capital because "the mobility of people exceeds the local sphere".
"The ideal thing would be to take advantage of this debate around the problems that exist in San Sebastián to advance in a regional regulation of the taxi", he points out,
San Sebastián is the second Spanish city, behind Tarragona and ahead of Vitoria, with the most expensive taxi fares in the country, according to a study published at the end of 2019 by Facua-Consumidores en Acción.
In the capital of Gipuzkoa, as is the case in Bilbao and Vitoria, the use of taxi prevails over rental vehicles with driver (VTC).
The Basque Government approved in December 2019 a decree that regulated the use of this service.
Part of the content of that government order that protected taxi drivers (what refers to the obligation to hire it 30 minutes in advance and the VTC geolocation system) was annulled by the Superior Court of Justice of the Basque Country (TSJPV).
The ruling was subsequently appealed by the autonomous Executive, the National Taxi Association and the Basque Taxi Federation,