JOLLY TAXI: Martono taxi in the landscape of the Gate of Dawn area.
VILNIUS - The taxi trip price in Vilnius is 1.5 litas (0.43 euro) per kilometer, but if you take a taxi from the Vilnius airport, you will pay five or six litas per kilometer. However, this is only the official price – it is quite possible that the taxi driver will ask from newly arrived, naive foreigners to pay a much bigger price. One of the taxi firms operating in the airport is called Pigus Taksi (“Cheap Taxi”), but the name does not necessarily coincide with reality. On Aug. 4, Vilnius municipality, the Competition Service, taxi firm owners and Vilnius airport employees as well as taxi driver trade union representatives did sit down in the presence of journalists to discuss, in the Tripartite Council office, this scandalous situation at Vilnius airport.
The Tripartite Council was set up in 1995, following an agreement on tripartite partnership between the Lithuanian government, trade unions and employers’ organizations for the purpose of solving social, economic and labor problems and promoting social harmony. The Tripartite Council is a body which advises the parliament and the government on socio-economic and labor matters.
“Yesterday I got information that a foreigner paid 90 litas for his trip from the Vilnius airport to the Gate of Dawn. It is a scandalous cheating,” Kristina Uleviciute, director of the culture, sport and tourism department at the Vilnius municipality, said. The distance between the Vilnius airport and the Gate of Dawn is some seven kilometers.
“If a taxi driver is capable of receiving such a sum, I say hurray to him! The taxi driver is a businessman who does not take that money by using force,” Romualdas Bieliauskas, president of the Taxi Drivers Association, said.
Valdimantas Rudys, head of Martono Taksi, stated that this year 10 drivers were fired from his firm for cheating customers and now they work in other taxi firms.
Jolanta Ivanauskiene, representative of the Competition Service, said that the only solution would be the introduction of an official ceiling of the highest possible payment per kilometer for all taxi firms.
After the discussion, Vilnius municipality issued a press release supporting the highest possible payment ceiling idea. Vilnius Mayor Vilius Navickas had already proposed such an idea to the Transport Ministry. Such an idea is nothing new – it is implemented in many European cities. The current situation at the Vilnius airport was described by Navickas as “robbery” in the press release.
Meanwhile, the foreigners should know one thing – they should not jump immediately into a taxi which is waiting near the airport. It is better to call and ask for a taxi from the city to arrive, and then it would cost the city tariff, i.e. some four times cheaper. Taxi firms’ phone numbers are written on their cars. Just call that number – when the car arrives from the city, they (at least in the case if it is Martono Taksi, which dominates in the airport area) will call back to you saying the number of the license plate of that car, because sometimes there a lot of taxis in the area and it is difficult to recognize the right one.
Another solution if you arrive not too late at night – take a bus (the bus stop is situated close to the taxi stop - buy a bus ticket, costing two litas, in the press kiosk in the airport before jumping into the bus (bus No. 1 will bring you to the Vilnius Railway Station), or walk some 200 meters from the airport and take a train, which leaves 15 times per day from the airport area to the Vilnius Railway Station situated some 200 meters from the Gate of Dawn of the Old Town. The railway trip costs 2.50 litas and is far less than those 90 litas which was paid by the unfortunate foreigner mentioned by Uleviciute.