The University of Cuenca team hired by the city of Cuenca to develop a new taxi fare schedule is cautioning local taxi drivers against expecting a large increase over current fares.
Victor Aguilar, dean of university economics department, says that his team of consultants must work within the parameters of the national traffic law, which includes taking into account taxi fares in other areas of the country. In most cities, fares start at $1 while in Cuenca they start at $1.14.
A number of elected officials are suggesting that fares should not increase from current rates.
Before the consulting team began its work, leaders of local taxi cooperatives said they were concerned that new fares may not reach the levels of those charged before the installation of meters programmed to rates set 10 years ago. Members of some cooperatives have said they might organize a strike of taxi drivers if the new fares don’t meet their expectations.
Juan Carlos Aguirre, coordinator for the consultants, says 100 university students are being used to gather data on which new fares will be based. The students are conducting interviews with taxi drivers, taxi customers and suppliers of goods and services required to maintain taxis. They are also gathering data about the average kilometers driven per day and fuel consumption.
Among the research’s early findings is that 46.5 percent of all Cuenca taxis are Hyundais, 20.7 percent are Chevrolets, and 15.3 percent are Nissans. The data also showed that 8.5 percent of units are 2013 and 2014 models and 80 percent are models from 2001 through 2013.
While the consultants do their work, city officials urge taxi customers to refuse to pay more than the fare posted on taxi meters. Alfredo Aguilar, city transportation director, says he continues to hear of a variety of schemes used by taxi drivers charge higher fees.
Through Wednesday June 25, city traffic police have written 123 citations for taxi drivers not using meters.