Mixed Responses to New Taxi Regulations

Yesterday, Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze announced that starting October 1, 2019, all licensed taxis in the capital must be white.

“We have had a lot of discussions about the color. We decided on white as the mandatory color for Tbilisi taxis from October next year,” said Kaladze. Additionally, two-door and right-hand-drive vehicles will not be granted taxi licenses. The mayor also noted that special parking areas will be allocated for licensed taxis to park free of charge.

All taxis must be registered and licensed by November of this year. Kaladze promises a “very strict attitude” regarding enforcement of the new regulations. The punishment for operating an unlicensed taxi will be 200 GEL at the first offense.  

After the announcement, the Ministry of Internal Affairs clarified that taxi owners will be required to update their vehicle registration certificate if they repaint their car, a process includes a standard examination of the car and has a 65 GEL fee.

Davit Meskhishvili, Head of Roads and Transport Association of Georgia, told InterPressNews that paining a taxi cab white costs GEL 1000-1500 per vehicle, and the cost will get passed on to customers, increasing fares. Meshkhishvili called the new regulations and the entire taxi reform process “a façade.” He argues that City Hall is making a mistake by mandating a uniform color scheme, warning that higher taxi fares will push more people onto public transportation, leading to a transportation collapse as the public transport system cannot currently handle a higher passenger volume.

City Hall argues that the cost of repainting the vehicle can be offset by a designated place for advertisements. It is not yet clear whether drivers will solicit advertisers themselves, or whether City Hall will create a system to match advertisers and drivers with available ad space. There are also efforts underway as part of Kaladze’s city-wide transportation reform plan to increase the capacity of Tbilisi’s public transportation, including increasing the frequency of metro trains and converting the bus fleet entirely to the newer, larger blue buses.

Majority MP Archil Talakvade came out in support of City Hall’s decision, saying “When the country has 8 million visitors, regulating transport is very important. He called the initiative “timely and necessary.”

“Taxi drivers will have extra income from advertising, and the promotion of hybrid and electric automobiles is a justified decision from the ecological and economic point of view,” said Talakvadze. Hybrid and electric vehicles pay lower registration fees than standard fuel-burning cars.



By Samantha Guthrie

Photo: Tbilisi City Hall

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27 September 2018 16:14