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How to access Italy’s taxi voucher scheme in Rome (and elsewhere)

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With financing from Italy’s Relaunch Decree and Sostegni Decree to support struggling businesses affected by the pandemic, the government has allocated funds for cities across the country to offer subsidised private transport services to residents.

The idea is to provide a boost to taxi drivers, who have suffered dramatic losses to their income over the past 18 months, while increasing the private travel options for vulnerable individuals who may be uncomfortable using public transport.

The ‘buoni viaggio‘ (‘travel vouchers’) scheme will last until at least the end of this year, when the current state of emergency is due to expire, with the possibility of an extension if the state of emergency is extended.

READ ALSO: Italy’s building bonus: Can you really claim back the cost of renovating property?

The funds were disbursed in March, but so far only some cities have implemented the scheme. Rome, Milan, Florence, Parma and Bologna are among those participating.

Each city council is responsible for administering the programme itself, which means each city has a different procedure for residents to access the funds and different rules on who is eligible.

Italy’s government is offering discounted taxi fares as part of its Covid recovery efforts.

Italy’s government is offering discounted taxi fares as part of its Covid recovery efforts. Photo: Gabriella Clare Marino/Unsplash

Here’s how to apply for the discount depending on where you live:

Rome

Rome has put together arguably the most generous package of any city, with all adult women residents eligible for a 50% discount on taxi fares.

Men over the age of 65 and disabled people over the age of 18 who are not already using different subsidized transport services can also access the discount.

Residents wanting take advantage of the scheme need to go to the site buoniviaggioroma.romamobilita.it. You will need either your SPID, National Services Card (CNS), or Regional Services Card (CRS) number to sign up.

READ ALSO: Italian bureaucracy: What is a SPID and how do you get one?

On the day you want to use the voucher, you will need to download a QR code from the website. You will need to make sure you book a taxi or private car rental driver that has signed up to the scheme.

When the journey is over, you should show your QR code to the driver, who will scan it to calculate your discounted fare. The payment must be made by debit or credit card (not cash).

The discount is capped at €20, so if your total fare is €50, you will pay €30; if it costs €16, you will pay €8. Each resident can use up to two vouchers per day, and access up to €400 worth of discounts per month.

A taxi in Milan.

A taxi in Milan. Mikita Yo/Unsplash

Milan

Milan is offering discounted rides to those who are:

  • disabled, medically vulnerable, or have reduced mobility
  • “belonging to families most exposed to the economic effects” of the pandemic
  • unemployed or with an ISEE (Equivalent Economic Situation Indicator) of €28,000 or below

To sign up, residents should go to the ‘Milano Aiuta‘ (Milan Helps) section of the city council’s website at this address: www.comune.milano.it/web/milanoaiuta/buoni-viaggio-taxi-e-ncc and go to the ‘Click here to submit your application’ link. 

Applicants will need to sign an online declaration form confirming that they meet the criteria for receiving the discount, and the city says it reserves to the right to conduct checks.

The council’s website says there is a ceiling of €200 on the vouchers.

The 50% total discount with a €20 per journey cap remains in place.

READ ALSO: Italy’s spa bonus: How you can claim €200 towards a relaxing break

Florence

Florence is providing the discount in the form of actual voucher booklets, and a wide range of people are eligible to apply, namely:

  • anyone over the age of 65
  • people with certified disabilities or medical issues
  • pregnant women
  • health workers and school staff needing transport to and from work
  • the unemployed

Those who want to apply for a booklet should go to the portal buoniviaggio.055055.it, and will need a SPID, CNS, or CIE (Carta di identità elettronica, or Electronic Identity Card) to sign up.

Once approved, a booklet of 20 €5 vouchers worth a total of €100 will be sent to the applicant’s home. A passenger can use up to four vouchers per trip (so €20 total).

As soon as the first request has been approved, the applicant can apply for a second booklet of a further 20 vouchers worth €100.

Cars parked in Porta Maggiore in Bologna.

Cars parked in Porta Maggiore in Bologna. Petr Slováček/ Unsplash

Bologna

Bologna offers discounts to people with disabilities or illnesses or those who have reduced mobility, including the elderly and pregnant women; as well as those who have been financially impacted by the pandemic.

To apply, residents should go to the site www.comune.bologna.it/informazioni/buoni-taxi-auto-noleggio-conducente-ncc or sign up via the Bologna Welfare app.

They should then download the city’s ‘Roger’ app, where they can buy journeys in advance with a total value of €40, €80, or €100, paying only half the value of the trip (so €20 for a €40 trip, €40 for a €80 trip, or €50 for a €100 trip).

Passengers subscribed to the scheme should let the taxi company know at the time of booking that they wish to pay via the Roger app.

Those who don’t want to use the Roger app can email the taxi service they want to book with, attaching a copy of their proof of registration to the scheme, and deal with the company individually.

The vouchers can be bought up until December 30th, 2021, and used until June 30th, 2022.

Parma

Parma is offering the scheme to residents who are:

  • aged over 75
  • have medium to ever disabilities or mobility issues
  • are pregnant
  • have an ISEE of less than €28,000, can demonstrate that they have been significantly financially impacted by the pandemic, and haven’t already received financial support in the form of the ‘citizen’s income’ or ’emergency income’.

Applicants will need to sign up with their SPID via the following form on the Parma city council’s website: www.comuneparma.elixforms.it/rwe2/module_preview.jsp?MODULE_TAG=BUONI_VIAGGIO

Successful applicants are entitled to up to €150 euros, with 50% discount on journeys and a €20 per trip cap. They will receive a QR code via email, which they can display to taxi drivers to receive the discount.

As in other cases, passengers should let the driver know at the time of booking that they want to make use of the discount. 

The discount can be used up until December 31, 2021 for Parma’s residents.



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Census 2022 – what difference does it make?

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Next Sunday, April 3rd, is Census night. Millions of people in homes countrywide will fill in page after page of questions, some of which are deeply personal and many of which might be unfamiliar.

But what it is it all about?

At a basic level, Census 2022 will be used to inform planning of public policy and services in the years ahead, according to the Central Statistics Office.

The questions will cover a range of environmental, employment and lifestyle issues, including the use of renewable energy sources in homes.

The questions will help inform policy development in the areas of energy and climate action, and the prevalence of internet access, to understand the availability of and need for internet connections and range of devices used to access the internet.

Questions also focus on changes in work patterns and will include the trend of working from home and childcare issues, while questions are also asked about the times individuals usually leave work, education or childcare, to help identify and plan for transport pattern needs locally and nationally.

Other topics covered include volunteering and the type of organisations volunteers choose to support, tobacco usage and the prevalence of smoke alarms in the home.

And of course there is a time capsule – the chance to write something which will be sealed for the next 100 years.

In this episode of In The News, the head of census administration Eileen Murphy and statistician Kevin Cunningham about what it all means for us.

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Oscars 2022: Will Smith makes Oscar history after slapping Chris Rock over joke about wife Jada Pinkett Smith | Culture

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Will Smith took the Oscar for Best Actor at last night’s 94th Academy Awards, but he also became the protagonist of the ceremony for other reasons. The night was following the script, until Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock on the stage after the latter made a joke about the shaved head of the former’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith. Rock had quipped that he was “looking forward to GI Jane 2,” in reference to her look. Pinkett Smith has revealed publicly that she has alopecia. It looked as if the moment had been planned, until Smith went back to his seat and shouted: “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth.”

The moment, which immediately became Oscar history but for all the wrong reasons, left the attendees with frozen smiles, and asking themselves whether it was possible that a veteran such as Smith could have lost his cool in front of tens of millions of people. After taking the prize for Best Actor, the superstar actor made a tearful apology, saying that he hoped the Academy “will invite me back.” Later on, actor Anthony Hopkins called for “peace and love,” but it was already too late. The incident overshadowed the success of CODA, which took the Oscar for Best Picture. Just like the time when Warren Beatty mistakenly named La La Land as the big winner of the night, no one will speak about anything else from last night’s awards.

At first sight, Smith’s actions looked as if they were scripted. When he first heard Rock’s joke, he laughed. But his wife was seen on camera rolling her eyes, and it was then that the actor got up onto the stage and hit Rock. When he returned to his seat he raised his voice twice to shout “Get my wife’s name out of your fucking mouth,” sending a wave of unease and shock through the attending audience. The fact that he used the f-word, which is prohibited on US television, set alarm bells ringing that this was real and not a planned moment. In fact, the curse word was censored by the broadcaster, ABC, in the United States.

During a break, Smith’s PR manager approached him to speak. In the press room, which the actor skipped after collecting his prize, instructions were given to the journalists not to ask questions about the incident, Luis Pablo Beauregard reports. The next presenter, Sean “Diddy” Combs, tried to calm the situation. “Will and Chris, we’re going to solve this – but right now we’re moving on with love,” the rapper said.

When Smith took to the stage to collect his Best Actor award for his role as Richard Williams – the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena – in King Richard, he referred to the character as “a fierce defender of his family.” He continued: “I’m being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people. I know to do what we do you’ve got to be able to take abuse, and have people talk crazy about you and have people disrespecting you and you’ve got to smile and pretend it’s OK.”

He explained that fellow actor Denzel Washington, who also spoke to Smith during a break, had told him: “At your highest moment, be careful, that’s when the devil comes for you.”

“I want to be a vessel for love,” Smith continued. “I want to be an ambassador of that kind of love and care and concern. I want to apologize to the Academy and all my fellow nominees. […] I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams, but love will make you do crazy things,” he said. He then joked about his mother, who had not wanted to come to the ceremony because she had a date with her crochet group.

The Los Angeles Police Department released a statement last night saying that Chris Rock would not be filing any charges for assault against Smith. “LAPD investigative entities are aware of an incident between two individuals during the Academy Awards program,” the statement read. “The incident involved one individual slapping another. The individual involved has declined to file a police report. If the involved party desires a police report at a later date, LAPD will be available to complete an investigative report.”

On December 28, Pinkett Smith spoke on social media about her problems with alopecia. She stated that she would be keeping her head shaved and would be dealing with the condition with humor. “Me and this alopecia are going to be friends… Period!” she wrote on Instagram.



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House-price inflation set to stay double digit for much of 2022

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House-price inflation is expected to remain at double-digit levels for much of 2022 as the mismatch between what is for sale and what buyers want continues.

Two new reports on the housing market paint a picture of a sector under strain due to a lack of supply and increased demand driven by Covid-related factors such as remote working.

The two quarterly reports, one each from rival property websites myhome.ie and daft.ie, suggest asking prices accelerated again in the first quarter of 2022 as the stock of homes available for sale slumped to a new record low.

Myhome, which is owned by The Irish Times, said annual asking-price inflation was now running at 12.3 per cent.

Price

This put the median or typical asking price for a home nationally at €295,000, and at €385,000 in Dublin.

MyHome said the number of available properties for sale on its website fell to a record low of 11,200 in March, down from a pre-pandemic level of 19,000. The squeeze on supply, it said, was most acute outside Dublin, with the number of properties listed for sale down almost 50 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

It said impaired supply and robust demand meant double-digit inflation is likely until at least mid-2022.

“Housing market conditions have continued to tighten,” said author of the myhome report, Davy chief economist Conall Mac Coille.

“The broad picture of the market in early 2022 remains similar to last year: impaired supply coupled with robust demand due to Ireland’s strong labour market,” he said.

Soure: MyHome.ie

“One chink of light is that new instructions to sell of 7,500 in the first 11 weeks of 2022 are well up from 4,800 in 2021, albeit still below the 9,250 in 2019. The flow of new properties therefore remains impaired,” said Mr Mac Coille.

“Whatever new supply is emerging is being met by more than ample demand. Hence, transaction volumes in January and February were up 13 per cent on the year but pushed the market into ever tighter territory,” he said.

He said Davy was now predicting property-price inflation to average 7 per cent this year, up from a previous forecast of 4.5 per cent, buoyed strong employment growth.

Homes

Daft, meanwhile, said house asking prices indicated the average listed price nationwide in the first quarter of 2022 was €299,093, up 8.4 per cent on the same period in 2021 and and just 19 per cent below the Celtic Tiger peak, while noting increases remain smaller in urban areas, compared to rural.

Just 10,000 homes were listed for sale on its website as of March 1st, an all-time low. In Dublin, Cork and Galway cities, prices in the first quarter of 2022 were roughly 4 per cent higher on average than a year previously, while in Limerick and Waterford cities the increases were 7.6 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively.

The report’s author, Trinity College Dublin economist Ronan Lyons, said: “Inflation in housing prices remains stubbornly high – with Covid-19 disturbing an equilibrium of sorts that had emerged, with prices largely stable in 2019 but increasing since.

“As has been the case consistently over the last decade, increasing prices – initially in Dublin and then elsewhere – reflect a combination of strong demand and very weak supply.”


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