Cuban government's price control impacts drivers, passengers

Some Havana drivers stop working due to new regulatory measure

By Hatzel Vela - Reporter

HAVANA - There is a famous song that describes the situation that most passengers looking for a ride are facing in Havana. "Que tu haces parado en Neptuno y Consulado?" It’s Spanish for "What are you doing standing in the corner of Neptune and Consulado?" The corner has historically been a busy one. That is until recently when there appears to be a shortage of drivers.

In an attempt to regulate drivers, the Cuban government has set price controls that vary depending on the distance traveled. At first the new rule appeared to favor passengers, who had been complaining about price gouging. But it appears to have hurt drivers so badly that passengers find themselves waiting longer than they used to for  aride.

The price control also comes as drivers are dealing with a shortage of fuel. The decrease in price put the shorter distances at about .20 cents.A woman said she had been waiting for nearly 20 minutes to catch a cab.

"It  looks like the price didn’t favor them," she said. "They are affected but so are we."

Some of the drivers didn’t own the cabs, so on top of the cost of the fuel, they also had to pay the vehicle owner a rental fee. This caused many to get out of the business entirely. A man said some of the drivers preferred to stay home than to work at a loss, or risk getting reported to officials for not following the rules.

Local 10 News' Andrea Torres contributed to this story. 

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