Getting a taxi at Palma's Plaça Espanya. | Teresa Ayuga


A shortage of taxis was a major issue for Mallorca last summer. It was one that prompted the island's hoteliers to call for improvements not just to the taxi service but also to bus services; Mallorca's reputation was being negatively affected by transport problems.

The Balearic government's response to the taxi shortage is a decree law under which seasonal licences will be granted. When President Armengol and the minister for mobility, Josep Marí, announced this recently, they said that procedures for issuing these temporary licences would be expedited; bureaucracy would not therefore get in the way.

However, it isn't the procedures that concern the presidents of two taxi associations so much as the logistics involved with getting approved cars on the road. Biel Moragues and Antoni Bauzá say that shortages have been most evident in Palma and Calvia. In Palma, they estimate that an additional 200 taxis are needed but argue that the time isn't available to get them ready.

Moragues believes that in Palma and Calvia "it is already unfeasible". "This should have been done at the end of last summer." The decree was only issued a week or so ago. The difficulties, he explains, lie mainly with the installation of taximeters and appointments with the ITV vehicle inspection service. He maintains that no more than four meters can be installed per day, while waiting times for an ITV appointment (after the meter is installed) can be up to a month or more.

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In addition, there is an issue with finding vehicles that comply with regulations. They have to be less than three years old, which will have a dissuasive effect on potential new taxi drivers, especially as licences will only be seasonal.

Bauzá says that with the time available, "I do not believe that the decree will be effective in Palma or Calvia; installation of taximeters is not done one day to the next". A more efficient solution, he argues, would be to remove the regulatory restrictions on the operation of taxi fleets. "The first thing that should be done is to eliminate these restrictions and the penalties they entail and then check if under this scenario, there is still a lack of taxis."

Both are critical of Palma town hall's "lack of dialogue". Bauzá adds that as and when new licences are activated, this will "surely be done without consensus and without a rigorous study to find out how many are really needed". "There should first be dialogue and then a real action plan."

Francesc Dalmau, Palma's councillor for mobility, says that the town hall will not place any impediments to the issuing of licences, but he acknowledges that there may be logistical problems with enabling vehicles. "We will do everything possible and if the licences cannot be used this season because of logistical issues, we will at least have this system in the future."