The Rome city council has announced that it will issue 450 new taxi licences. A total 300 will go to people who are already driving taxis as substitute drivers, when the licence holder is ill or on holiday. The other 150 licences will be for anyone who wishes to apply. Qualified applicants

from both categories will be able to take a competitive exam for a licence, which should be issued by February 2006,

Working shifts have been altered to put more vehicles onto the city streets at the busiest hours of the day. On weekdays, 1,400 more taxis will work between 06.00-07.00 and 291 more will be on the roads between 08.00-12.00 and from 16.00-20.00.

Mario di Carlo, the city councillor in charge of mobility, has announced that he also intends to make taxi fares easier to understand. As an experiment, some taxis will be fitted with dual meters, one with the present system of fares to which are added the extras such as baggage, and the other with a flat fare, which will include what are now listed as extras.

A tough campaign will also be launched against illegal taxis, particularly at Rome's international airport at Fiumicino and at city hotels.

There will also be stricter controls on drivers with hire cars that have licences issued outside Rome. In future they will have to give Romes traffic agency, Sta, details of their number plate and their journey into the centre of Rome, or risk being fined.