It’s 11 in the morning and a taxi comes in from Murcia to the terminal The Altet. It has a green light even though it is stopped. A police officer stands next to the driver and warns him to turn it off because it cannot attract travelers if the service is not contracted before. It asks for documentation and travel history. It detects that it has also violated the taxi law by changing the rates twice from the municipality of origin to the destination.
This is just one example of the many situations that people often encounter. Road Crime Unit of the Local Police of Elche every time they do checks at the Alicante-Elche airport. Surveillance has been intensified recently as the number of flights begins to increase as restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic are relaxed.
Three to five agents are in charge of ensuring that both drivers of taxis, Tourist Vehicles with driver (VTC) and buses that call in the entire terminal have the documentation in order, meet the requirements in the service and do not deceive the passenger. Depending on the airport activity, technicians of the territorial transport service also tend to collaborate with the local body, as happened on Thursday.
From the Police they explain that local taxi drivers, which can be about eighty a day in shifts, are the ones that follow all the regulation the most because for years they have been made aware of the requirements they must meet, while foreign taxi drivers are the ones who more often fail to comply, especially from points of the Vega Baja or regions like Murcia, they point out. An infraction could be that they enter the terminal in breach of the tariff regime.
In these cases and how he explains Jose Sanchez, Chief of the Road Crime Unit of the Local Police of Elche, the driver is usually required to print the taximeter ticket to perform a metrological verification, where it appears if the taxi driver has changed the fare on the way when he should not have done it. It is also verified that the seals are in place to stop irregular practices, less and less frequent, such as power cuts. There have been cases of manipulated meters that indicate a higher rate inside and from outside a lower one appears in the eyes of the inspections.
In any case, it is checked that the driver has exposed the rates, the taximeter, printer or has a claim sheet. They must also show an accrediting card with the data of the car as well as the driver to see if they are the owner or an employee. However, and as this newspaper was able to verify in the terminal itself, there are taxi drivers who show copies of that card and justify that they do not have the original because “it burns from the sun”, among some arguments.
Then the agents, who set up their operations center on site, have to find out that the identity is not false.
The inspection is done with all types of vehicles that transport people. Every year the VTCs have more visibilityAlthough they follow a different legislation than taxis, they must carry documents such as the waybill or the contract that proves the employment relationship between the driver and the company. They do not always carry this documentation on hand.
The mission of the police is also to verify that they do not attract clients at the airport, since the service must be contracted in advance.
Observation and instinct also help them to uncover the business of individuals who transport travelers posing as family or friends. Sánchez acknowledges that the detection of these types of cases is complex, although they are based on signals, such as seeing that payments are made immediately in cash and usually without an invoice. In these cases, the traveler and driver are asked their relationship to check if the versions coincide.
This ‘pirate’ business has been on the rise in recent times. Drivers advertise offers on the internet and often wait for users with a sign as if they were acquaintances. In most cases they are foreigners and those who usually hire are compatriots. The police estimate that there may be a score of these cases a year.
When these irregular cases are flagrant, after verifications by the agents, the taxi law is complied with and that vehicle is immobilized and is diverted to the car depot, facing the owner to penalties of up to 4,000 euros.
The surveillance is also directed at the buses to eradicate cases, for example, of more ‘pirates’ who come to charge the occupants for the transfer from the parking lot to the terminal when it should be free as a courtesy.
There are taxi drivers who change the price irregularly
The biggest offenders are usually foreign taxi drivers according to the Local Police
DOCUMENTS IN ORDER
Lack of original accreditations
There are also cases of taxi drivers who do not have documents such as claims sheets or a physical activity contract in the case of VTCs.
Pirates who advertise on the net
Most are usually foreigners and can go unnoticed because they displace compatriots
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.