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 SOFIA CAB BREAKS NEW RIP-OFF RECORD

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PostSubject: Bulgaria Taxi related   Wed Dec 09, 2009 10:00 am

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[size=75:ndipqlk7]novinite December 9, 2009

Bulgaria Municipalities to Decide Maximum Taxi Fares


Bulgaria Minister of Transport, Alexander Tsvetkov, has stated that each municipality will be given the power to decide on maximum taxi charges.

Tsvetkov, speaking on BNT, said that after the relevant law is passed, the Municipalities will each set a limit for taxi fares and this could happen in early 2010. He added that the the law has been uploaded to the website of the Ministry is awaiting a procedure for public discussion.

Meanwhile, Tsvetkov called train transport in Bulgaria the safest form of transport but added that old trains must now be replaced alongside a huge effort to improve the railway infrastructure and track system, to which he added BGN 1 B will be supplied.

Tsvetkov concluded that all payments to railway staff delayed payments will be made this month. He also said that there has been a 7-8% drop in passengers on Bulgarian trains this year and a mammoth 50% reduction in freight.

This has got to be good news

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PostSubject: Bulgarian Taxi Drivers Threaten to Protest   Sun Oct 17, 2010 4:49 pm

Bulgarian Taxi Drivers Threaten to Protest

Bulgarian taxi cab drivers have announced they would start a national protest if the government approves the sharply increased penalties, envisioned in the amendments to the Road Transport Act.

The protest decision has been taken at a national meeting of 24 organizations from the Taxi Cab Drivers Association in the Bulgarian city of Veliko Tarnovo and was announced Sunday by th Chair of the Association, Sava Kolev.

More than 25,000 taxi cab drivers are members of the Association.

According to the drivers, the amendments to the Road Transport Act envisioned fines ranging from BGN 2,000 to BGN 5,000 for minor violations, which was an impossible sum since the individual driver's average earnings was about BGN 2,000 per year.

"
It is not normal for a damage in the cash register to cost BGN 3,000,"
said Dimcho Ivanov, member of the National Federation of Taxi Cab Drivers Unions.

In his words, the difficult working conditions and the legal restrictions resulted in a recently increased number of suicides, heart attacks and strokes, which taxi cab drivers received behind the wheel.

The organizations have sent a declaration to the Bulgarian PM, Boyko Borisov, the Transport Minister, Alexander Tsvetkov, and the Chair of the Parliament, Tsetska Tsacheva, asking that they will take into consideration their demands before voting the bill in the parliament.

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PostSubject: Re: Bulgaria Taxi related   Sun Oct 17, 2010 7:46 pm

Its about time they were kicked into touch and realised the importance of safety
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PostSubject: SOFIA CAB BREAKS NEW RIP-OFF RECORD   Thu Nov 25, 2010 4:37 am

From Novinite

A Sofia cab driver set a new rip-off record Wednesday by charging a customer BGN 94 for a 2-kilometer ride.

The passenger arrived in the morning at the bus station in the Sofia "
Ovcha Kupel"
district and took a cab to a restaurant in the "
Brothers Bukston"
one, not far from the State "
Boyana"
residency. Upon arrival, the driver asked him to pay BGN 94, of which a record BGN 64 for idle time.

A conflict flared between the two, leading to the interference of a police patrol. An agreement had been reached after the customer decided to pay part of the amount.

Sofia taxi cabs are notorious for rip-off scams.

============================================================================

Bare-faced cheek reaches new highs s s s s


Last edited by 1 on Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: SOFIA CAB BREAKS NEW RIP-OFF RECORD   Thu Nov 25, 2010 4:30 pm

Taxi wars in Varna halve rates, making them the cheapest in Bulgaria

Taxi companies waging war in the Bulgarian port city of Varna have caused a dramatic collapse of prices locally, the private television channel bTV reported on November 25 2010.

Protests have been ongoing for several weeks, and prices slashed by 50 per cent. Taxi drivers in Varna protested last week because one particular firm had reduced its prices by 20 per cent and was "
stealing"
their customers. So in response to this strategy, another firm has offered a 50 per cent discount.

Until recently, Varna had one of the highest tariffs in Bulgaria – at 0.89 leva day fare and 0.99 leva night fare, but prices now have been halved to 0.55 leva, the report said. But when individual firms in Varna were contacted and asked why the prices are dropping, they replied that this was in response to the "
economic crisis"
and had "
nothing to do with the protests"
.

Meanwhile, the situation in Sofia appears to be quite the opposite.

As many as six out of seven taxis in Sofia cheat their customers by inflating fares, Auto-mobile Administration deputy chief Atanas Todorov said, cited by mass circulation daily 24 Chassa on November 24 2010.

Far too many Bulgarian or foreign tourists still board a taxi at Sofia airport to a destination in Sofia city centre only to find themselves having to pay a bill approaching 100 leva.

Taxi drivers are able to get away with flagrant over-charging because of loopholes in legislation, as some companies charge seven leva/km. For the moment, however, the legislation is such that they are able to get away with it.

Whereas a typical fare from the Sofia Airport to Sofia city centre should cost about 15 leva, some tourists might be charged as much as 140 leva, depending on the company they chose.

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PostSubject: Re: SOFIA CAB BREAKS NEW RIP-OFF RECORD   Fri Nov 26, 2010 5:42 am

@Admin wrote:
Taxi wars in Varna halve rates, making them the cheapest in Bulgaria

Taxi companies waging war in the Bulgarian port city of Varna have caused a dramatic collapse of prices locally, the private television channel bTV reported on November 25 2010.

Protests have been ongoing for several weeks, and prices slashed by 50 per cent. Taxi drivers in Varna protested last week because one particular firm had reduced its prices by 20 per cent and was "
stealing"
their customers. So in response to this strategy, another firm has offered a 50 per cent discount.

Until recently, Varna had one of the highest tariffs in Bulgaria – at 0.89 leva day fare and 0.99 leva night fare, but prices now have been halved to 0.55 leva, the report said. But when individual firms in Varna were contacted and asked why the prices are dropping, they replied that this was in response to the "
economic crisis"
and had "
nothing to do with the protests"
.

Meanwhile, the situation in Sofia appears to be quite the opposite.

As many as six out of seven taxis in Sofia cheat their customers by inflating fares, Auto-mobile Administration deputy chief Atanas Todorov said, cited by mass circulation daily 24 Chassa on November 24 2010.

Far too many Bulgarian or foreign tourists still board a taxi at Sofia airport to a destination in Sofia city centre only to find themselves having to pay a bill approaching 100 leva.

Taxi drivers are able to get away with flagrant over-charging because of loopholes in legislation, as some companies charge seven leva/km. For the moment, however, the legislation is such that they are able to get away with it.

Whereas a typical fare from the Sofia Airport to Sofia city centre should cost about 15 leva, some tourists might be charged as much as 140 leva, depending on the company they chose.


You can always negotiate the fare with taxi drivers before getting in. I always do and normally get at least 20% off the NORMAL fare whenever I use them, which is pretty rarely nowadays. s s s s s s s s
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PostSubject: Re: SOFIA CAB BREAKS NEW RIP-OFF RECORD   Sun Dec 05, 2010 3:08 pm

Bulgarian Transport Minister Declares War on Taxi Rip-off's

Sofia will have a new bus line, just on time for the winter holidays, to connect directly the airport with the metro station in the "
Mladost"
district.

The information was reported Sunday by the Bulgarian Transport Minister, Alexander Tsvetkov, who said he discussed the new line with the City Hall already.

The bus will be express, without any stops between the airport and the subway.

The launch of the line is pilot and if there is interest on the part of customers, it could be extended after the holidays, the Minister said.

Tsvetkov was at the airport to check on taxi cabs over numerous complaints of fraud and inflated prices. The Minister reported he held talks with all taxi cab business owners and warned them they would be banned from the airport if their drivers continue to cheat customers.

A patrol car of the State Auto mobile Inspectorate will be at the airport on duty 24 hours a day, Tsvetkov pointed out, adding the checks will be permanent and the violators punished.

The Minister appeals to all customers to call 02/930 88 94 to alert authorities of taxi cab rip-off's.

According to Tsvetkov, the new Auto mobile Transport Bill, to be passed in the Parliament before the end of the month, will put an end on the fraud because the municipal councils will set the price cap while fines would go up to BGN 3 000. Sanctions include suspension of permits as well.

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PostSubject: Re: SOFIA CAB BREAKS NEW RIP-OFF RECORD   Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:39 pm

In Yambol city where i live all public taxis have their rates in the cabwindow per kilometer so there should be no problem with a registered taxi
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PostSubject: Re: SOFIA CAB BREAKS NEW RIP-OFF RECORD   Sun Dec 05, 2010 9:40 pm

at least they are finally taking a stand, i came to bulgaria twice to the same hotel. first taxi charge was 8 levs, second charge was 48 levs. its bad for tourism as your memories are marked by negatives of the country and making you ultra careful in everything you do whilst in that country. not good. they are finally listening. g
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PostSubject: Re: SOFIA CAB BREAKS NEW RIP-OFF RECORD   Mon Dec 06, 2010 9:21 am

Yes your right its about time these robbing bas**s were stopped it only brings the the country down as a whole and reflects on the good of Bulgaria lets hope they keep on top of this
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PostSubject: Re: SOFIA CAB BREAKS NEW RIP-OFF RECORD   Tue Dec 07, 2010 9:44 pm

About time these robbing sods were told I know they have whatever price that suits them at the moment and if you look as though you have a few bob then you will pay more its always best to ask how much first and if your happy then go for it otherwise check it with another
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PostSubject: Re: SOFIA CAB BREAKS NEW RIP-OFF RECORD   Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:11 pm

Bulgaria's Plovdiv Gets Ahead of Sofia in Capping Cab Fares

Plovdiv will likely be the first Bulgarian city imposing a limit on the maximum prices for taxi services, a problem that is especially important in the capital Sofia.

On Tuesday, local taxi companies in Plovdiv and the head of the municipal company in charge of traffic control Nikola Yanakiev agreed that the City Council must introduce maximum cab prices as soon as this is allowed with the entering into force of the amended Car Transport Act.

Thus, as soon as the law comes into force, the Plovdiv City Council should introduce the limit of BGN 1 per km during day, and BGN 1.2 per km at night for taxi fares.

Yanakiev has told Darik Radio he does not think the imposing of a limit will make the taxi companies increase their fares to that limit.

The problem with fake or rogue taxis is very serious in Bulgaria's capital Sofia as well as along the Black Sea coast resorts, cities, and towns as greedy taxi firms or individual drivers charge foreigners or aliens immense amounts of money for short rides with insane rates.

Taxi company managers have suggested that the amendments of the Car Transport Act will solve the problem with the rogue taxis only partly as such cabs will continue to exist but at least their number will be substantially reduced.

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PostSubject: Re: SOFIA CAB BREAKS NEW RIP-OFF RECORD   Tue Jan 04, 2011 9:16 pm

The Bulgarian Taxis That Will Take You for a Ride

The burly or, some would say, just fat cab driver is reading some of them cheap, bad-quality papers in his taxi parked in front of a large mall in down town Sofia when a Jeep with a tinted wind shield slowly pulls over, and four young muscular guys in dark clothes get out of it.

The cab driver doesn't realize yet what is about to happen. His bald forehead is sweating in the summer heat. His bushy beard, nasty face, and large bronze chains on his neck give him looks that many consider scary.

Not the four guys in dark suits. The first one of them opens the cabby's door and with one swift motion pulls the 130-kg driver out of the car. Next think you know, the driver is in on the ground lying in a puddle of his own blood. It takes the four guys 2-3 minutes to – as it turns out – to “punish” him.

One shouldn't really bother asking why none of the hundreds of passers-by intervened to help the poor cabby's with the bad-ass looks.

For one thing, the four guys did what they came for pretty quickly and efficiently, and just as quickly – though without creating the impression of being in a hurry – got back in their Jeep and drove away. For another, they must be clearly some kind of sportsmen-turned-gangsters that regular Bulgarians do shy away from wanting to deal with.

But why didn't any of the 30-40 other taxi drivers witnessing the scene intervene to help their colleague?

...

Taxi drivers, at least in Sofia, are not the kind of guys who are afraid. Not even of the so called “mutri” - the stereotypical antroponym for Bulgarian gangsters from the 1990s, most of whom used to be talented wrestlers back in the communist days.

“Get out of the f... way, you m... f...,” shouted the driver of the taxi that I took home one night. It was well past midnight, and we got stuck in a kind of a traffic jam in one of the narrow down town Sofia streets lined with hundreds of parked cars on both sides because a black Jeep had pulled over right there on the street.

“You sold a kilo of heroin, bought a Jeep, and you think you're a big deal, ha!,” kept shouting the cabby's at the driver of the jeep adding all sorts of really nasty insults and swearwords. The black Jeep slowly moved forward, and made a turn at the first crossroads.

“Did you see that? They are scared of us,” the gleeful taxi driver told me explaining that even a mid-level Sofia gangster would be afraid of him and his colleagues because they have the means to wedge him in with their cars almost immediately, and then to proceed to other forms of street justice.

“We are disciplining them! These are disciplinary measures. But they know better by now. If he had gotten out of the car to mess with me, I would've brought here 50 cars in 2 minutes. We could just get his car stuck here, and he won't have anything to do,” said the taxi driver explaining to me the mechanism through which the Sofia cabby's would “discipline” the mutri or anybody else of the sort.

The cabs in Sofia could easily become something like the mechanized units of the Wehrmacht – they are highly mobile, highly organized, and highly united. At one point in the late 1990s they blockaded the down town and nearly brought down the Bulgarian government after breaking news that the 5-year-old son of one of their colleagues was kidnapped from the hands of his mother. This later proved to be false (the mentally unstable mother was found to have killed the kid) but then Prime Minister Kostov had very tough several hours dealing with the taxi blitzkrieg.

So the Sofia cabby's are not afraid. Many of them can be nice, many of them can be bad, but all of them have seen too much. Why did they abandon that poor driver with the bad-ass looks to be thrashed?

...

The answer is simple. He is not one of them. He is a solo player. He belongs to no taxi firm. He works for himself – with all the risks ensuing from this status. He is what the others call in Bulgaria “shanadzhiya” - or a “hustler” in plain American English. In Bulgaria, the term is most often used for drug dealers who try to be independent and to work for nobody but it also goes for this special kind of taxi drivers.

This is exactly the kind of taxi driver in whose car you don't want to end up in Sofia, especially if you are a foreigner, and especially if your nice looks create the impression that you might have some money.

Ask former Greens MEP David Hammerstein who in October 2008 got charged BGN 105 for a taxi ride from the Sofia International Airport to the Dondukov Blvd in the down town. It was rather sad yet somewhat funny to see the nice but outraged MEP hold on to his receipt hoping that it would help him find some kind of justice. The receipt, of course, turned out to be fake, from a non-existing firm.

“This case with the taxi was my first impression from Bulgaria. I told the Transport Minister about it today but he said that he couldn't do anything about it,” Hammerstein told the Bulgarian papers. His MEP colleagues and he said upon leaving that they were shocked by the lawlessness reigning in Bulgaria.

Or ask the nice American woman who called the police when the taxi driver demanded BGN 250 for driving her from the airport to the down town. The policemen, of course, couldn't do anything as the woman supposedly agreed to the crazy rate of the cab driver when she got in the taxi. Just for the record, the distance from the Sofia Airport to the down town is no more than 10-12 km.

This crime becomes even more brutal in the numerous cases daily in which poor Bulgarians from the rural provinces coming to visit a sick family member in a Sofia hospital get tricked into a rogue taxi. In that case chances are the hustler will get the family's only money that is supposed to buy medicines for the sick family member.

So why did those four muscular chaps beat the heck out of that hustler cabby's? Did they want to force him to join their taxi firm? Or were they just a racketeering squad? None of the above, I am told by one of the witnesses, a cabby's from one of the decent Sofia taxi companies that don't overcharge their clients.

...

The reason for his beating lies with the hustler's tactics. He doesn't pick up many clients daily. But he is very much like a predator stalking his prey who then skins it completely after catching it.

Most people from Sofia are generally aware of the rogue taxis and avoid them. Most people who come from outside of Sofia, however, have a very high chance of falling into the trap. Sometimes Sofia residents could end up in a rogue cab, too, by not paying enough attention as the hustler is skilful at employing mimicry. So the regular cabby's might drive around the city all day, while the hustler may spend hours waiting but still make the same BGN 50 or BGN 100 – from just one client.

Even if the victim realizes before they reached their destination are given a hefty bill – or just demanded orally to pay one that they got into a rogue taxi, even if they figure it out during the ride, it is usually too late to avoid the rip-off, unless they are very courageous.

Because the hustler would most often and most likely try to intimidate you. He would start telling stories about how he was in prison, or how he got that scar or that tattoo. One can't tell if these stories are true – but they might as well be.

Sure, there are ways for the potential victim to resist but if it is a teenager, an elderly person, a woman, a guy from outside of Sofia who just came to the “big city,” or, especially, a nice, cultured Westerner, the most likely result will be that the hustler will get what they want.

So, once again, back to the beating of the fat, bald, bearded cabby's in front of the mall in down town Sofia. What was he punished for?

...

It turns out the day before two attractive young girls got in his taxi without realizing what they had gotten themselves into. During the ride the hustler shocked them with scary stories about his time in prison, etc.. so when they reached their destination they were intimidated enough and paid the BGN 60 he asked from them.

Yet, the young ladies were pretty outraged. Unluckily for the cab driver, one of them turned out to be the girlfriend of... let's just say, a well-connected man. A man who, as it happened, could send in a punitive squad. All the girl had to do was to memorize the license plate number of the hustler, and thus she allowed her boyfriend to “protect” her “consumer rights,” though in an unorthodox way, at least as far as Western standards are concerned.

The four energetic chaps who went to punish the hustler did not get any money from him, they just wanted to hurt him. In that case, it was not about money. It was more about honour. Or about “consumer gratification”.

This true story (as are the other facts mentioned above) did not end up in a police investigation. It is only left in the memory of the Sofia cab drivers – both the proper and the rogue ones. And they actually have much more shocking true stories. One just can't help but wonder who is the victim in these circumstances – the “good” taxi firms, the clients, even the hustlers, or even those customers who can afford to use gangster justice?

...

One thing is for sure – the legal and law enforcement system in the city of Sofia is pretty rotten as far as the taxi services are concerned. And don't even get me started about the situation elsewhere in the country – especially along the Black Sea coast where the hustler cabby's have a lot more foreigners to take advantage of – and they do all the time. A very good example in hand is the recent case in which a Bulgarian cabby slapped a drunk British girl for throwing a beer in his face after he wanted to overcharge her.

There is at least some hope for Sofia. The Sofia Municipality and the Transport Ministry recently announced that they will move to introduce a ceiling of the rate charged per km by the cabby's. It is this announcement that provoked this article.

This regulation will technically be in power in the entire country as it will be part of the national legislation but my guess is that it stands a fair chance of being properly enforced in Sofia, and little chance of being enforced in the Black Sea resorts. The price ceiling for the taxi service is still unclear as the taxi companies and the authorities will have to agree on a formula to determine it.

...

Until that new taxi regulation materializes, if it ever does, you should, especially if you are a foreigner arriving to Sofia, keep in mind that the decent taxi companies offer rates of about BGN 0.55-0.60 per km during the day, and of about BGN 0.70 per km at night (10 pm-6 am).

Thus, you shouldn't be asked to pay more than BGN 12-14 from the Sofia Airport to the down town. Some of the hustler cabby's stalking their prey in front of the airport would ask for BGN 7.5/8.6 per km, which will automatically bring your 15-20-minute ride to the cost of a dinner for four in a nice Sofia restaurant.

The reasonably-priced – or cheap – services are one of Bulgaria's advantages as a tourist destination. The rogue cabs, however, are one of its disadvantages. There are about 5000-6000 legal taxis in Sofia but nobody knows how many the rogue ones are. According to the National Union of Taxi Companies, about 10% of cabs in Sofia are rogue, i.e. they will charge you the same prices as a low-cost airline.

They are essentially criminal structures, even though they usually act independently or in very small groups, which the authorities must crack down upon. There seems to be some hope that this might happen in Sofia, while this is rather unlikely in the Black Sea cities and resorts.

So if you are a foreigner in Bulgaria who has to get a taxi, your best bet is to have somebody local whom you trust pick a cab for you. Unless, of course, you don't care how much you spend, and don't care this money will end up in the hands of a nasty hustler.

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PostSubject: Re: SOFIA CAB BREAKS NEW RIP-OFF RECORD   Wed Jan 05, 2011 6:45 am

On the evening of 31st December, on a night out to Varna from Balchik, we negotiated a special return rate of 40 leva (returning in the early hours of the 1st. :: of ours making the same trip, got a "
special"
rate of 380 leva return s :Sunny:It's dangerous out there. s s
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PostSubject: Re: SOFIA CAB BREAKS NEW RIP-OFF RECORD   Wed Jan 05, 2011 2:34 pm

We have travelled from Sofia Airport to the Train Station on a few occasions and there are OK Taxi Booths in both Terminals 1 and 2. Do not go outside and get hassle from the non OK taxi people.

The last trip we made cost 10 nb.

Also the road that was under repair is now complete, and is very good.

We also use the same Taxi every time we need one in Yambol. We ring him and he turns up within minutes, he speaks goodish English and is very reliable. PM me if you need his services.

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PostSubject: Re: SOFIA CAB BREAKS NEW RIP-OFF RECORD   Wed Mar 02, 2011 3:08 pm

[size=45:y853hzne]Sofia echo

New taxi prices in Varna cause major headaches for companies

Taxi companies in the Bulgarian port city of Varna are reeling because of the new regulations which have caused major obstructions to their business.

New regulations dictating the new and lower prices mean that taxi drivers are obliged to visit the local authorities and the public transport office and have their tills sealed and approved, otherwise they will not be allowed to operate. Failure to have the equipment checked can result in 500 leva fines from the municipality.

The problem is that there are far too many taxis and capacity to process them is inadequate, which results in massive queues, long hours lost, and significant loss of revenue for taxi drivers and companies.

The new regulations stipulate that about 2000 vehicles must have their equipment checked and adjusted. But at maximum capacity of 60 cars a day, that means it will take more than six-and-a-half working weeks for all cars to undergo the process. The deadline however is March 15.

"
I have been waiting here since 8am. I came with two cars from Dobrich. This is really bad business for me,"
taxi driver Chanko Chanev told Bulgarian National Television.

"
When they change the rate, we can't work. We are obliged to have our tills fixed, otherwise we are facing 500 leva fines,"
another taxi driver, Zhivko Vassilev, said.

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