Two months ago ATAC, the company responsible for running the Rome city buses, began installing special telephone columns all over the city where the public could telephone to get a taxi from the nearest rank. So far 50 of these columns have been installed. Inevitably there have been teething troubles and on 23 June a survey showed that 27 columns were working perfectly. However eight ring but the automatic answering system does not reply and 15 are broken; of these eight have the line constantly engaged and on four the line drops before the service is completed.
The new system, which went into operation on 5 May at 36 of the city ranks, has a single telephone number, 199 106 601. An automatic voice replies and asks the caller to digit the number of the municipality from which he is calling, 01 from the city centre, 02 from the Salaria area, 03 from Piazza Bologna and so on. Having digited this number the caller is then offered a further selection of code numbers for the taxi ranks in the chosen municipality and should choose the closest. The cost of calling the taxi rank is 14.85 cents per minute from Monday to Friday from 08.00 -18.30 and on Saturday mornings from 08.00 -13.00, all other times of the day and night and on Sundays and holidays the cost will be 5.58 cents per minute.
According to the Rome newspaper Il Messaggero the city councillor responsible for this new initiative has called a meeting with ATAC where he will ask that the columns be repaired when they break according to the contract, the repair should take place within four hours.