Queue for taxis at the airport. | Jaume Morey

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Francesc Dalmau, Palma's councillor for mobility, has responded to criticisms that the exam for the city's taxi drivers is too difficult by insisting that "we can't make a gift of the exam". "There are people who pass it."

The president of one of the taxi-driver associations, Biel Moragues, has said that "it makes no sense that we need more taxis and yet there are such difficult exams". Moragues has therefore pointed to the exam being a reason why there is a shortage of taxi drivers in Palma.

There was a recent and exceptional selection process for new drivers. It proved to be something of a failure in that only 20 people passed the exam out of a total of 150. Dalmau explains that, on average, there is a 30% pass rate. But when there are exceptional procedures, like the recent one, the pass rate typically drops to around eleven per cent. "Maybe they have less time to prepare for the exam."

The councillor points out that there have been 695 new taxi drivers over the past five years. At present, a total of 2,590 have a "valid card", while there are 1,600 valid taxi licences in Palma. Dalmau wonders whether there are people who hold a card but who want to work in a different sector. "Perhaps the working conditions are better there."

Dalmau explains that the exam comprises tests of knowledge of regulations and of streets. Drivers are also required to have a minimum knowledge of Catalan. The next ordinary exams will be in November.