Illegal taxi drivers targeting foreigners in Budapest
There are more and more places in Budapest where taxi drivers with no permit, so called hyenas, are on the lookout for potential passengers. The inspections of the Budapest Transport Corporation (BKV) are ineffective, and the authorities who would have the right to intervene are unresponsive, mno.hu reports.
The solution is expected to come from BKV: they are responsible for the taxi stands as well as passenger transport in the city, and they have the resources to carry out inspections. The statistics show that there were 300 recorded cases of violation just this year, and 2,000 out of the 10,000 inspections carried out last year reported on alleged illegal activity. The information is passed on to the authorities.
In Budapest, out of several thousand taxi drivers, the number of hyenas is estimated to be around 80-90, while the number of droids – drivers who operate using rented licence plates – is around a few hundred. These numbers show that inspectors of BKV must have caught every illegal driver in the city three times already. This is entirely possible; if there is a violation, the drivers receive a cheque for a fine of around HUF 600,000 (EUR 1930), but there are no further consequences, and the hyenas can keep operating.
The main locations, where the illegal drivers gather are the Oktogon, Deák Square, the airport, and the Keleti and Nyugati Railway Stations. Keleti Station is especially popular, and the hyenas here are almost exclusively targeting foreigners, who are charged HUF 6,000-7,000 (approx. EUR 19-23) for a ride to Oktogon. Hungarian passengers are largely ignored; drivers claim they have been called there by foreign customers.
According to mno.hu, the illegal taxi stands could be eliminated if the inspectors’ reports to the authorities were taken seriously, and those responsible would take action. The police, upon catching a taxi driver with no permit, should immediately remove the driver’s licence place, or more accurately, make the driver take their own licence plate off, since it is not in the police’s power to do so. This has happened only once last year. The police stated that they “do not keep statistical records of these cases”. Nevertheless, the presence of the police in the affected areas could make a difference. In the days following the Brussels blasts, when the Hungarian counter-terrorist task force TEK was at the airport in large numbers, the illegal drivers disappeared. When it was clear that they could continue their activities, they came back again and have been there ever since.
Copy editor: bm