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Taxi owners protest lack of gasoline subsidy and growth of internet app taxi services

Thousands of taxi drivers filled the streets of Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil Wednesday morning demanding that the government make good on its promise of a gasoline subsidy. The drivers are also demanding a crack-down on internet-based taxi services such as Uber and Cabify which operate without permits.

Taxi protest meets a police cordon in Quito on Wednesday. (El Telegrafo)

In Quito, representatives of the protesters met with government officials at the presidential palace and with leaders of the National Assembly to press their demands.

In Cuenca, protesters at Parque Calderon hoisted signs claiming “Government deception again!” and “Taxi apps are killing us” and heard speeches attacking the government for a lack of concern.

Meeting with taxi union representatives, Azuay Governor Xavier Martínez admitted that the government had been slow in following through on its promise to compensate taxi owners for higher gasoline prices imposed in November. “It is true that we pledged to pay the difference of the higher price for fuel and this has not yet happened,” he said. “I am in talks with the National Traffic Agency (ANT) about the matter and hope to have a resolution soon so the payments can be fulfilled.”

Martínez said the delay is the result of bookkeeping issues. “The ANT must comply with requirement of the national comptroller’s office before it provides payouts and these details are almost completed.”

Taxi drivers are also angry that taxi services such as Uber and Cabify are operating around the country without complying with regulations that apply to licensed taxis. “The government admits they operate illegally but they don’t enforce the laws,” says Jorge Calderón, president of the National Federation of Transport Operators (Fedotaxis).

“The international taxi apps are taking food out of the mouths of the families of our drivers and we demand new laws and enforcement of current ones,” Calderón says. “There are thousands of illegal app platform operators in the country, in Quito and Guayaquil and now in Cuenca, Riobamba and Machala, and they are stealing our livelihood.”

He and other Fedotaxis members presented National Assemblywoman María José Carrión with provisions to be included in the revision of  the National Transit Law being debated in the assembly.

10 thoughts on “Taxi owners protest lack of gasoline subsidy and growth of internet app taxi services

  1. Truck drivers will be the first to go in a coming jobless society in the near future to the disrupter of driverless cars, automation and Ai, The protests need be for Universal Basic Income to all starting at 18 … realistic and doable … a dream a libertarian could love – freedom out of slavery to a meaningless job.

  2. Absolutely! Those poor Cuenca taxistas don’t deserve to have their livelihoods compromised by other poor people hustling to earn a living and competing in the market place. We should all be willing to accept the inferior service of current taxistas instead of supporting these upstarts.

    Hold on, I’ll try to think of a logical, moral argument to support that position. If I don’t get back to you, it’s because I’m still looking,

    1. I’ll help you out with the moral argument, Donald. Legal taxi drivers are required to pay an exorbitant amount of money as a start up fee… to get a “spot”. Is it fair to those who play by the rules to have to compete with those who don’t play by the rules? Of course, do away with the “license fee” and the argument goes out the window.

    2. maybe one moral argument would be destroying the value of the current licence ? they pay a lot of money to be legitimate and it will all be gone in a heartbeat if Uber is allowed here. Maybe the government will repay all of the money that the taxi guys have paid ? lol … like all of the poor bujsinesses that have gone bankrupt waiting for any compensation on the Tranvia route

      1. You raise a point that I’m not unsympathetic to, Bob, but in my view, if promises were made (and I don’t know, one way or the other) to the current taxi drivers, those promises should be kept. That said, penalizing the new drivers/system in no way keeps that promise, per se. All it does is perpetuate a monopoly enforced by the state. I see no inherent right of the current taxistas to have their turf protected.

        1. Try to focus, Donald. This has nothing to do with promises. Legal taxi drivers pay an initiation fee. Illegal drivers don’t. Yes, the “state” enforces this system. Why do you insist that taxistas who follow set regulations and obey the law don’t have inherent rights? Maybe you should consider a change in the current law before criticizing those who follow it?

      2. Licenses are barriers to entry. “Buying” one is paying a bribe. Value is subjective. Even amongst criminals. But counterfeit value is still a delusion, even as the damage delusion does is real.

        Glenn Campbell, uptempo Gentle On My Mind, “& it’s knownin’ that I’m not shackled by forgotten words & bonds & ink stains that have dried upon some line…”

        Delusion, doing dental damage (licensed dentists “disapprove”):

  3. I am quite happy to pay the $1.50 to $3 that a legitimate taxi driver charges. maybe rather than going through all of the red tape and corruption that occurs dealing with the government they could just charge an extra 10c a ride ? That should cover the cost of the gas increase. How much could we save with Uber off of $1.50 ? I personally haven’t had any bad experiences with legitimate taxi drivers. just with ones that have no meter or a souped up one that spins at twice the rate. Uber has many faults … mainly involving them having your credit card and applying fees after the event. Number 5 on the attached is very common in Australia.

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