Taxi coops and city continue disagreements over car inspections and overcharges to customers

May 23, 2009

Cuenca’s taxi cooperatives and the city government continue to squabble over new inspection rules and the over-charging of customers.

Although the Taxi Transport Cooperative Union has agreed to comply with the city’s new vehicle inspection rules, the United Front of Taxi Drivers says it has reservations and is refusing to talk to city officials.

Both coops continue to support drivers who refuse to use meters for calculating fares, claiming that the equipment is not reliable. In the meantime, city officials claim that the public is routinely over-charged for taxi service.

The new testing program, Cuencaire, is designed to reduce pollution and improve safety and requires that all vehicles in the Canton undergo an annual inspection. The Transport Cooperative Union says it supports the inspections and agrees it will improve public safety. The United Front, on the other hand, claims that the repairs that the inspections may require will be too expensive.

Ruben Cobo, Cuencaire director said that avoiding needed repairs is short-sighted and said that the program will improve both air quality and public safety. “Remember the taxi driver who was killed three months ago? Had there been an inspection of his car, he would have known that his brakes were unsafe and could have avoided the fatal accident.” Cobo suggests that that taxi drivers should think about their own lives as well as those of their passengers.

Both coops argue that the meters installed in some taxis have mechanical problems and do not accurately reflect fares. Cobo says his program will investigate the problem but says that the public is paying too much. “It is a chronic problem in Cuenca that riders pay more than they should. Corrective action must be taken.”

Photo caption: Taxis on Calle Borrero.