Cuenca’s municipal council has approved higher taxi fares. The rates will be operational in about a week, after they are programmed into taxi meters.
Following heated debate among councilors on Monday, the rate schedule recommended by a team of University of Cuenca consultants was adopted. Minimum daytime fares will begin at $1.39 and nighttime fares will start at $1.67. Current fares are $1.14 and $1.39. The old rates were set in 2006 but were rarely used by taxi drivers until taxi meters became mandatory in taxis in June.
Pending further consideration are special rates for the elderly, students and the disabled as well as new penalties for taxi drivers who do not use meters.
During the debate councilman Councilman Xavier Barrera protested that the rates were the highest in Ecuador. “Why should we be the most expensive in the country?” he asked. “This places an unfair burden on the citizens of Cuenca.”
Representatives for taxi owners claimed that the new rates are not enough and don’t cover the cost of operation.
The University of Cuenca consultants interviewed more than 400 taxi drivers and passengers to determine their recommended fee schedule. According to the consultants, 71% of those asked in a survey said the new rates are fair. Only 16% thought they were too high.
In addition to the new minimum fares, kilometers will be charged at 29 cents during the day and 39 cents at night and idle time will cost 6 cents a minute. Meters will be begin at 55 cents, up from the current 46 cents.