The organization representing Cuenca taxi owners is seeking permission to operate vans, jeeps and SUVs but says it would need to charge more for the service than currently allowed.
According to Bolivar Sucuzhañay, president of the Union of Co-operatives of Taxis of Azuay (UCTTA), the vehicles are needed to transport larger groups of passengers as well as those with large suitcases. “Now, we have difficulty transporting passengers with a large volume of luggage going to the airport or bus station,” says Sucuzhañay.
He added that UCTTA also seeks permission to add 4-wheel drive vehicles to the taxi fleet. “Our current taxis are not able to access areas with steep terrain so this would expand our service,” he said.
Except for a higher fare, the larger vehicles would be painted yellow, like other taxis, and would operate under all taxi rules.
Sucuzhañay is asking for a quick decision from the National Transit Agency but objections from inter-provincial transportation companies could delay the process. Tour van companies have legislation pending in the National Assembly to allow them to offer legal transportation in vans with a capacity of six to nine passengers.
A spokesman for inter-provincial bus companies says larger taxis could also infringe of their business. “We operating busettas, with capacities of 12 to 16 passengers on some routes and need to consider if the request by the taxi companies will interfere with our services.”
According to Sucuzhañay, about 10% of Cuenca’s taxi fleet of 3,500 taxis is replaced each year. “We would like taxi owners to have the option to purchase larger vehicles when their currents ones need to be replaced.”