Taxi wars in Havana

Fixed route Taxi

Many people in Havana depend on the old American cars that drive around as fixed route taxi. It’s simple. You stick out your arm horizontally and shout your destination at the driver. He stops, you get in and get out, paying 10 or 20 MN depending on the distance.       Worked fine!

But now there is a war going on.

What happened?

In December the government raised the price of illegal diesel by 300%. HuH?

Yes, al those charming American cars have modern diesel motors that run on diesel and you will never see one of those Almendrones as they are called at the gas station. They all run on stolen diesel.

So how does de government raise the price of stolen goods? It’s simple. They doubled fines and the number of inspectors. The risk for the merchants went up, supply down and prices exploded on the black market.

Taxi price

Drivers had to raise their prices.

The government forbids that right away.

Drivers started to make short rounds instead of the usual long hauls. I had to change taxi 3 times to get home (paying 3 times 10 Pesos) were before I just took one car, paying 20. So the drivers raised their prices by 50% without raising them. 10 pesos just went less distance.

The government counteracted by issuing an official price table. A very detailed description of prices for each trajectory. This, in fact, was lowering the prices people were paying.

Taxis on strike

Taxi drivers were responding by driving around empty, stating to the customers they were ‘taxi privado’ now and would only take the customers straight to their homes (at 10 times the price they would normally have to pay.)

Taxi mess in Havana

This has been going on for a few weeks now (March 17) and a solution does not seem at hand. Some drivers make normal routes, others the short rounds, others driver around empty and most of them simply stay at home. Some charge the new official prices, others just keep charging the old prices and some stick to the ‘taxi privado’ principle.

Public transport in Havana is a mess at the moment and getting home sometimes a chore…  The government is bothered with this situation and is deploying extra busses.

Streets are full of people looking for transport and empty cars looking to make an extra buck.

As soon as the situation settles down I will tell you the outcome of this conflict.

Update April

Everything sort of back to normal. (normal is NOT a Cuban concept). Taxis are working again at the prices they used to ask before the whole conflict. The price of illegal diesel back down to about 20 cents per liter.