It’s time to begin serious discussions to allow international taxi companies to operate in Quito, according to Mayor Mauricio Rodas. Angered by last week’s strike by the Quito taxi owners union, the mayor said that competition from such internet-based companies as Uber and Cabity would be healthy and could improve service to passengers.
As many as 2,000 of Quito’s 16,000 authorized taxis participated in Thursday protests that caused traffic congestion on major city thoroughfares, bringing traffic to a standstill in some cases. The protest prompted officials to cancel public school classes on Friday.
“We cannot live under threats from the taxi guild and, at the same time, tolerate the poor service that the city’s taxis provide,” Rodas said. “It is time to begin a respectable debate about joining the global trend of taxi service to provide the public with alternatives.”
Rodas added that it is not up to the city to allow international taxi companies like Uber and Cabify into the market. One of the issues that Quito taxi drivers are protesting is the operation of unlicensed, informal taxis in Quito. “City governments in Ecuador cannot allow or ban foreign taxi operators from operating,” he said. “The decision rests with the National Assembly which must reform current traffic and safety laws. The guild’s demand that the city stop foreign-based taxis is ill-informed.”
Rodas added that Quito and other cities need alternatives to avoid being “blackmailed” by taxi unions. “My primary interest in opening debate on taxi operations to prevent situations like last week’s when the entire city was put at the mercy of the guild,” he said. “No group or organization should have the power to cause such illegal disruption.”