As the proposed taxi fares schedule faces its first government review today, no one is happy.
A tripartite committee of taxi owners, citizens and government officials meets this afternoon to discuss the fares proposed by a team of consultants from the University of Cuenca.
The fares begin at $1.39 for daytime rides, a 25 cent increase over the current rate of $1.14. Proposed nighttime rates begin at $1.67 compared to the current $1.36. Other proposed increases are per daytime kilometer: 29 cents vs. 26 cents; nighttime kilometer: 39 cents vs. 36 cents; and idle time per minute: 6 cents vs. 3 cents.
The proposed rates are considerably higher than rates in other Ecuadorian cities which begin at $1 to $1.10 for the minimum fare.
Taxi driver Rodrigo Ruiz says he cannot make ends meet even with the proposed new rates. “I will still have to work 12 hours a day to feed my family,” he says. Tripartite committee citizen member John Bustillos responds that the proposed rates will “gouge” the public. “Why should the local rates be 40% higher than the rest of the country? This is grossly unfair to Cuencanos.”
Members of the taxi owners union say they were looking for minimum fares to begin at $1.55 to $1.60.
Some members of the tripartite committee as well as elected city council members, on the other hand, say that current fares are already too far above the national average and should change little or not at all.
According to tripartite member Reuben Calle, the new rates need to be in line with rates charged in other cities. “Taxi owners in Cuenca are not above the law,” he says.
Once the tripartite committee votes on the new fares the issue goes to the city council for a final vote. Officials say the process will finish next week.
Photo captions: Taxi drivers are not happy with proposed fares