San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Taxis to Continue Traffic Slowdowns

Thousands of official red taxis that clogged streets nationwide last week in an effort to push a ban of their informal competitors plan to continue their tactics of tortuguismo in the coming days.

The protests, in which taxi drivers slow traffic by moving at less than 30 kilometers per hour on main roads and highways, will continue “indefinitely” until the government outlaws informal taxis and takes action to keep them from operating, said  Edwin Barboza, coordinator of the National Taxi Drivers Forum, an organization made up of 8,000 drivers.

Costa Rica’s Commercial Code allows private drivers, or porteadores, to pick up passengers who have called them from a designated place, but they cannot legally pick up passengers from the street.

Unlicensed taxis that pick up passengers from the street are known as piratas, and are illegal. Porteadores and piratas pose competition for official taxis.

Taxi drivers want the Legislative Assembly to pass a bill banning porteadores, and are also calling for stricter actions against piratas.

The assembly’s Legal Commission is reviewing the bill. If approved there, it will go to the assembly floor.

Though no specific dates have been announced, Transit Police are preparing for a second round of protests.

Only the first taxis in traffic jams on highways with minimum speed limits can be ticketed because – in theory – the rest are stuck in traffic, Viviana Martín, Vice-Minister of Transportation, told the daily La Nación.

Transit police in San José cannot fine taxis because there is no legal minimum speed in urban areas, but police will try to “control the situation to prevent conflict,” said Transit Police Operations official Marco Locija.


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