Hundreds of unlicensed taxi drivers, commonly known as porteadores, blocked Avenida 2 in downtown San José Tuesday to protest a bill being discussed nearby in the Legislative Assembly that would make it illegal for them to operate.
The bill, introduced by Social Christian Unity Party (PUSC) legislator and presidential candidate Ricardo Toledo, would eliminate Article 323 from Costa Rica’s Commercial Code. The article states that porteadores may “transport people and things …from one place to another for a price.”
Toledo told legislators this week that the mix of public, red taxis that adhere to government standards and private taxis that operate without regulation creates a state of “chaos,” according to the daily La Nación.
The private drivers protesting Tuesday told The Tico Times they have the right to continue working alongside their public counterparts.
“We work with the cars we have out of the necessity to feed our families,” said Carlos Ruiz, a private driver who traveled from Miramar, outside the Pacific port city of Puntarenas, to attend the protest. “We’re here so that they (legislators) take that into consideration.”
Public taxi drivers were strongly involved in drafting the bill, said Ronald Acuña, manager of the National Federation of Taxi Companies (FENACOOTAXI).
Private taxis, by law, may not pick up passengers on the street, but many ignore the law and operate as “pirates,” Acuña said, taking business away from public taxi drivers and hindering their clients’ safety.