can now enter a cab
without being overpriced by an ambitious driver.
Independant drivers protesting by sitting down and refusing to move.
After an energetic debate, in which one of the most
positive parts to the alleviation was the Swedish Taxi Association, the resolution for a
deregulation became a fact late December 1988 though without any real structure or
realistic goals for the future transportation industry. The only thing one knew for
certain was that, with the start on July 1st 1990, it would be easier than ever
to get a taxi at any time of the day.
To deregulate an industry that has been untouched for ages cannot happen in
a single night. At the same time, due to the major changes within the application process,
it became really easy for anyone to get hold of a taxi permit. Unfortunately, there were
also those with criminal records that got hold of the sought-after windshield badge.
To Taxi Stockholm, which had had the grip of the Swedish capital's taxi industry
for more than 96 years, the changes became those of the extraordinary kind. A very costly
computer system, designed by Motorola and bought from Canada, totally hollowed the
company's economy for years to come and the redesign of all cabs, to strengthen the taxi
company's outdoor profile, was a frustrating process in which specially trained inspectors
patrolled the streets to report those drivers who didn't wear the new, blue uniforms.
During the first years, there were many protests among the
drivers who didn't like the new order as they thought they were being messed around. But
today most of the cabbies have accepted the situation as it is. Therefore, despite the
fact that most drivers are, and always will be individualists, the visitor to Sweden today
can be sure of one thing - to always be met by a uniformed taxi driver.
FOOD, COCA-COLA AND TAXI FARES
Before deregulation, each cab in Sweden had the same type of taximeter and
exactly the same price. The fare was set with a combined time / kilometer tariff, which
made a trip in a cab anywhere in Sweden both similar and quite easy to calculate in
advance. Things like fixed prices or pre-calculated fares were forbidden in law and each
trip went strictly on the meter.
Therefore the night between June 30th and July 1st
1990 became more than a new way of thinking for tens of thousands of taxi drivers.
Suddenly, there wasn't just one single cab company in Stockholm, there were 21. Each of
them with fantastic names, odd roof lights and - most
of all - each of them with different ways to calculate a fare. Frequently, the taxis
within one specific company also used differentiated prices, even though the
thought was that cabs belonging to one dispatch should use the same price setting. But
nobody really cared, or were too occupied making money on his or her own by finding
optional and competitive markets to taxi driving like selling food, tickets and Coca-Cola!
Some even gave their passengers the latest films on monitors mounted in the rear seat of
During the first three years of the deregulation, there were also those
cabbies who specialised in working solely at Stockholm's International Airport, a place
that before 1990 was more or less impossible to get even close to. Now, on the free
market, they could demand any price from a newly arrived tourist. During the first year of
the new era, there was such a chaotic situation with an overflow of taxis outside the
airport's main entrance, that most attempts to rob passengers succeeded. And quite often,
the customer had to pay as much as £180 for a trip to downtown Stockholm, a 40 kilometer
motorway ride that normally should cost about £35. At the same time, credit cards were
not accepted by the drivers, in spite of recommendations from most companies, which
resulted in a Pay-cash-or-die situation which upset many of the visitors to
It wasn't long before the rising number of complaints from both tourists and
Swedes hit the Mayor's table and an investigation, led by the local police, started. Even
though the price setting was free and no cab driver had done anything officially