Taxi fares are set to increase by 7.4% for those that adopt new technology and replace taximetro. However, there is an outcry from taxis over the way the changes have been introduced.
The Transportation Secretariat announced that the taximetro in all city cabs would start being replaced by a digital platform – akin to that used by Uber – from August of this year. The move has been presented as a response to rigged meters and overall consumer mistrust in yellow cabs.
In a statement from the Mayor’s Office, Transportation Secretary Juan Pablo Bocarejo said that coming to the digital age “will be a revolution for the city”. He explained that technology and safety will be improved and the platform which will replace the current taximetro system will allow consumers to track vehicles and rate drivers.
The application will use GPS to track the distance covered in a trip. In order to calculate the fare, it will take into account both the number of kilometres travelled, as well as traffic encountered along the way. Bocarejo explained that “if the app detects that there was a decrease in the speed, the fare will automatically go up.”
In order for people who hail a cab off the street to be able to use the service, taxis are required to install a tablet on the back seat on the passenger side, with which the rider will be able to have all the fare information. Some drivers have expressed safety concerns, as they fear that robberies may increase due to the new valuables that will be in their vehicles.
The move comes as part of the city’s annual fare review, but the proposed 7.4% fare increase is conditional on taxis implementing the changes to their taximetro system. The increase would push the minimum fare up COP$300 to COP$4,400. Each unit will cost COP$88 rather than the current COP$82. Strong resistance is coming from the Taxi Association and traditional cabbing apps such as Easy Taxi, Tappsi and Smart Taxi.
The president of the Taxi Association, Hugo Ospina, shared his discontent in an interview with Publimetro over the measures, accusing the administration of giving preferential treatment to one app provider over all others. In fact, Taxis Libres are currently the only available provider of the government-approved app.
Ospina argues that other companies were not given proper warning about the administration’s requirements on replacing the taximetro, and so could not submit the paperwork in time for their applications to be processed. It would take at least four months for a developer to get the necessary permits to use their apps in the open market.
Uber faces new fines
The Ports and Transportation Superintendencia has released a statement confirming that Uber Colombia S.A.S. will have to pay a COP$344 million fine for having “facilitated and promoted – through mass media and advertisements – the provision of unauthorised services in the country.”
The Superintendencia is investigating several other complaints against Uber and warned that the company may face subsequent fines of COP$365 million for each case that has merit.
A similar fine was already issued in March of this year to the tune of COP$451 million. The same reasons were cited then.