Approximately 2,000 taxi drivers have disappeared from the streets of Budapest since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the president of the National Taxi Association, it is difficult to get a taxi during peak hours. However, the reason behind this is not labour shortage but traffic congestion.
After the COVID-19 outbreak, passenger traffic dropped by 60−70%, and many taxi drivers have left the industry. Before the pandemic, 7,000 taxi drivers worked in Budapest. This number is currently only 5,000, Zoltán Metál, the President of the National Taxi Association, told Infostart.
“They were forced to quit. A lot of them retired, even more drivers looked for other jobs where they could make use of their lorry driving licence and their expertise.”
Due to the lack of tourists, fewer cars are operating in the Hungarian capital. Because of this, however, it is almost impossible to get a taxi during peak hours. The adversities are further amplified by congestion and traffic jams, Zoltán Metál added. The National Taxi Association has already predicted that the renovation of the Chain Bridge and Blaha Lujza Square, the road closures, and the lane restrictions would paralyse the city’s traffic during peak hours in the morning and in the afternoon. Unfortunately, the events of the last weeks and months have confirmed this.
Many taxi drivers started to work as bus drivers and carriers, and most of them have not returned to the industry. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that their salary is significantly higher, and they are able to work on a more family-friendly schedule, explains Portfolio.
They also do not have to spend on a new car or on taxi licence fees.
Labour shortages in all sectors of passenger and freight transport are a problem not only in Hungary but also across Europe. This will probably result in even more taxi drivers leaving the industry.
According to Zoltán Metál,
Hungary cannot afford a pay rise for taxi drivers.
Nonetheless, the president of the National Taxi Association believes that with the end of the epidemic and the stabilisation of the economic situation, drivers will also return to the taxi industry.