The Economic Affairs Committee of the Legislative Assembly approved a bill that will allow taxi drivers to place advertising in the units to generate additional income. The proposal also guarantees that the drivers of this type of public transport can offer a service transporting goods, medicines, and pets.
The bill that will allow these changes in the role of the taxi driver was presented at the beginning of 2020 and was intended to help the taxi drivers’ union in the face of the reduction in the number of passengers, first caused by illegal technological platforms and then by the arrival of the pandemic and the sanitary measures that caused the closure of shops and reduced the mobility of people.
The “Law for the protection of the taxi driver in the face of the health and social crisis caused by Covid-19”, file 21,924, was presented by the PUSC deputy, ErwenMasis, and will now require approval in plenary. “This initiative allows taxi drivers to generate new income, in addition to transporting people. With this proposal they can place advertising in their units, transport goods, medicines and even pets; something that until now they were not allowed by law. The caused pandemic by Covid-19 forced us all to think of new alternatives, new opportunities to have access to new resources”, said the legislator after giving the project a positive opinion.
The report of taxi drivers during the pandemic indicated that their income was reduced by more than 50%, according to the more than 11,000 taxi drivers registered with the Public Transport Council (CTP), even hundreds of them returned their concession.
For Masís, the union crisis generates a direct impact on the income of more than 20,000 families, this taking into account that each taxi license plate is used, mostly by “at least 2 drivers”, people who are mainly older adults. “In recent years the union has faced the consequences of a pandemic, for a few years with the entry of new platforms they have felt a significant decline and the need to renew and innovate. It is important that taxi drivers find a way to coexist and always provide a better service for the benefit of users. I am confident that these authorizations will allow them a new opportunity”, added the deputy.
The law that advances in its process in the Legislative Assembly causes several changes in the legislation that regulates taxi drivers, among them:
• The placement of internal or external advertising.
• Transfer of other types of merchandise (pets, medicines, food, among others).
• Guarantee to the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) to condone fines, penalties and interest to delinquent taxi drivers, or guarantee payment arrangements (without guarantor).
• Request the CTP to implement a technological application for control and inspection.
In the case of the placement of advertising, the project establishes various requirements, for example, advertising may not “hinder the vision and identification of the official information contained in the labeling of taxi vehicles.” In addition, advertising related to “cigarettes, liquor, electoral politics” or “or when the image of women or minors is used in situations contrary to morality or vulnerability” will be prohibited.
The representative of the taxi drivers, GilberthUreña, told that the progress of the project is great news for the union and that they hope it will become a law of the Republic in the short term. “This project comes to give us a little economic relief if we could advertise both inside and outside the units. This, at least, gives us the benefit of reaching an agreement with the companies for an oil change, a tire per month, of a brake repair, that I know, small things that could help us and that is why we have said that this is a project of great benefit always respecting the prohibitions that were established. We are very happy because this project also benefits us from the beginning point of view that they could be returning around 300 plates that have been taken from fellow taxi drivers because, at that time, they could not renew their concession. It is of great joy that these 300 families can return to their little job after the legal direction of the CTP will recommend removing these concessions”,Ureña also said.
Regarding the transfer of merchandise or pets, the union leader said that changes in the law are necessary because they are currently subject to fines if they carry out any transfer of this type.