This summer, many tourists and residents in popular Italian cities faced a frustrating challenge: finding a taxi. In Italy, ride-sharing platforms like Uber, Lyft, and Bolt are heavily regulated and met with resistance. This has led to long taxi lines at train stations and airports, difficulty in finding available taxis through traditional apps, and extended wait times for callers to taxi dispatch centers.
The shortage of taxis in Italy has sparked outrage among consumers, with complaints about the inconvenience and frustration experienced by both tourists and locals. To address this issue, the Italian government recently introduced measures to simplify procedures for issuing new taxi licenses, including temporary licenses for peak periods such as the summer or major events like the Catholic Church’s Jubilee in 2025 and the Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in 2026.
In addition, major cities like Rome, Milan, and Naples will have the opportunity to increase the number of taxi licenses by 20 percent. However, the new licenses must be used for electric or hybrid cars. Currently, Rome has around 7,800 taxis, and issuing 20 percent more licenses would add approximately 1,500 more taxis to the city’s fleet. The government has a two-month window to convert the decree into law.
Despite these measures, transportation experts argue that the government’s intervention falls short of the necessary overhaul needed in the taxi industry. The taxi lobby in Italy holds significant influence over local and national politics, making it challenging to implement liberalization measures and introduce competition. Experts suggest increasing the number of licenses for Italy’s chauffeur services, which collaborate with platforms like Uber, as a more effective solution to meet consumer demand.
The regulation of taxis in Italy is controlled by municipal governments, which can be influenced by the strong taxi lobby. This creates a barrier to implementing policies that might challenge the taxi industry’s interests. Taxi drivers have the ability to disrupt cities through wildcat strikes and traffic blockades, which adds to their bargaining power.
Industry officials have criticized the new decree, stating that it does not adequately address the problem of urban mobility. They argue that city governments already have the power to issue more taxi licenses if necessary. According to a report by Italy’s transportation authority, the country has fewer taxis per capita compared to other European countries like France and Spain.
Representatives of chauffeur services highlight their frustration at being held hostage by the powerful taxi lobby, especially as digitalization and increased tourism create higher demand for transportation services. They feel limited in their ability to expand their fleet, which in turn hampers their potential earnings.
Taxi drivers attribute the current shortage to various factors such as heavy traffic in cities, a surge in tourism after the pandemic, and inefficient public transportation systems. They argue that before increasing the number of licenses, local public transportation should be improved. In addition, taxi licenses in Italy can be sold by drivers, resulting in significant financial gains. With the introduction of new licenses, the value of existing licenses would depreciate, which is a concern for current license holders.
City administrators also fear potential backlash from taxi drivers if the status quo changes. The taxi lobby has the ability to organize strikes and protests, which can disrupt traffic in major city centers.