SOME 50 percent of Palma taxis already have GPS (satellite navigation system), and the city council yesterday guaranteed subsidies to all cabbies who requested one. There are 1'246 licenced taxis in Palma.
The Mayor of Palma, Catalina Cirer, said this help is part of the subsidy plan which the council and the Balearic Ministry for Public works have operated since 2004 for the installation of screens and GPS in all taxis whose drivers apply for it. Accompanied by the Minister for Public Works, Mabel Cabrer, the councillor for Traffic, Carlos Veramendi, and heads of the taxi sector, Cirer said that in 2006 the budget for this programme was 36'000 euros, of which 18'000 euros came from the Balearic Government and 18'000 from Palma council. This amount, she said, was sufficient to cover the installation of 120 GPS systems, given that the grant is 20 percent of the total cost, with a maximum of 250 euros for screens and 300 euros for GPS. However, the budget has not been not enough to satisfy the demand from the taxi drivers. In 2004 grants for 18 screens were applied for but none for GPS systems, in 2005 grants were given for 12 screens and 138 GPS systems, but in 2005 grants for 204 GPS systems were applied for. This figure has exceeded the expectations and the budget for 2006 for this programme, which was started in 2004 in response to demands from taxi drivers for more safety measures after various crimes against taxi drivers. The GPS system, remarked Cirer, does not just allow you to know where the vehicle is at all times, but has other uses such as the payment of the fare by bank card. Cabrer also highlighted the success of this programme, from which 168 taxi drivers benefitted in 2004 and 2005. According to the information released by the Ministry, in 2004 the programme budget was 30'000 euros and 4'302 euros were granted for 18 screens, while in 2005, with a budget of 56'000 euros, 2'630 euros were given for 12 screens and 41'400 euros for 138 GPS systems. The President of the Majorcan Taxi Drivers Association, Gabriel Moragues, said he considered that the installation of GPS is an “advance” in the modernisation of the taxi fleet and added that next year there would be more, as 50 percent of taxis still do not have this system.

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