Unlicensed Cabs Add to Tehran Traffic Woes

Unlicensed Cabs Add to Tehran Traffic WoesUnlicensed Cabs Add to Tehran Traffic Woes

Private cars with license plates registered in other cities and working illegally as taxis in the capital are responsible for 30% of the traffic jams, says Tehran Traffic Police Chief Brigadier General Teymour Husseini.

“At present an estimated 19 million people commute daily within the city and 4 million use unlicensed taxis,” quoted him as saying.

In the past six months of the current fiscal year that started in March, nearly 20,000 unauthorized cabs were “dealt with according to the law”, he said, adding that “even licensed taxis from other cities are not permitted to carry passengers in Tehran.”  

Pointing to the negative effects of this new phenomenon in the overcrowded capital, Hamideh Shahabadi, an urban transportation expert said stopgap solutions of the past had utterly failed and the problem demands a permanent solution through planned phasing out of unlicensed public transport.

“The presence of unlicensed taxis can reduce the demand for official ones (usually yellow and green) or licensed private cabs.” Illegal taxis are of poor quality and often unsafe, she said.

Official drivers also charge fixed fares since they have a set of guidelines which they have to follow but private drivers don’t follow the guidelines and usually overcharge.

Many of the unlicensed cabbies who come from smaller cities to the capital and stay in Tehran for several weeks have no roof over their heads. At night they sleep in their cars and this by itself can cause many problems.

Reiterating that the quick fixes don’t help solve the issue and the fine is not high enough to deter them from violating the law, she said, “The root cause of the problem--which is unemployment in small cities--needs to be resolved, otherwise the problem will persist.”

Sociologist Mohammad Ruhinejad says, “It is obvious that no one is interested to travel a long distance to work in another city or spend the nights in a car. We should address the source of the problem which is lack of jobs as well developmental facilities in smaller cities.”

Owning a cab in Tehran is tough business with applicants having to wait years for the official taxi license plate. According to official figures, taxis account for about 22% of the public transport fleet in the capital that is home to more than ten million people.

Data from the Tehran Taxi Management and Supervision Organization show that there are currently 100,000 licensed taxi drivers and 80,000 taxis in the capital.  There are around 2,000 licensed female cabbies working in the capital and among them, more than 1,400 are female heads of households.

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