A Day Without Private Taxis / 14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez

Customers wait on Rancho Boyeros Avenue for a taxi to take them to Vedado or Centro Habana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Marcelo Hernandez, Havana, 10 February 2017 — Without posters, lists of demands or protest demonstrations, Havana’s private taxi drivers are responding to the recently imposed fare caps. The authorities made a bold move, adjusting their previous fare caps – which the drivers got around by breaking their journeys into pieces and charging separately for each piece – to specifically apply the price controls to newly defined portions of a single trip. In response, the self-employed taxi drivers have offered a Friday from hell for Havanans trying to travel around the city.

At the edge of the sidewalk, desperately waving their arms, were hundreds of people this morning along the routes of the “almendrones” – as these shared taxis are called, in reference to the “almond-shape” of the old American cars called into service to run them. But the drivers rarely stopped on the grounds that they would only make “direct trips” between the first and last points of the journey. In this way they avoid fragmenting the payments and lowering the costs of the travel, in accordance with the new regulations.

Lacking a union to represent their demands, the drivers are trying to force the government to withdraw the pricing measure, by ensuring congestion in urban transportation. For its part, the government knows that a good share of the city’s residents need these shared taxis to get to their workplaces or schools. Without them, the country will be paralyzed.

As of yesterday, a silent pulse is developing in the streets, where right now the worst affected are the passengers.