New regulations for taxi drivers to be implemented
Monday, January 18th, 2016
The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) has indicated that it has been looking into the idea of standardizing the taxi system on the island, from the size of the vehicles to the drivers’ professional attire and demeanor. The aim is to shape them to be ambassadors, be able to provide detailed information to visitors, to speak proper English, and set a high bar in excellent customer service. The initiative is also being encouraged and supported by the Belize Tourism Board (BTB), and the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA), who will be working along with the SPTC.
All members of the different taxi associations will be required to undergo training in order for them to meet the required standards. Such requirements will include proper attire, special identification, and clean police records. Mayor Daniel Guerrero also spoke about an initiative to reduce the size of the taxi vans, which at the same time will help alleviate the issue of traffic congestion on the island. He mentioned a particular size of vehicle which he would approve immediately. “There are some small taxicabs that can take around four persons. They don’t take much space and are very comfortable. If anyone would get some of these small taxicabs, I would issue the permits immediately,” said Guerrero. He also emphasized the idea of standardizing the new vehicles with a definite color and design. The SPTC is willing to work along with the taxi drivers in the standardization process, so that Ambergris Caye continues being recognized for their great service in the tourism industry.
A few of the taxi drivers across various organizations agree with the initiative. However, they also have their own opinions regarding the changes that the local authorities have in mind for them. According to some, BTB started a similar initiative in the past, whereby all cab drivers were well attired and the point of tourism information for visitors. However, there was no follow-up. Others have suggested that the downsizing of taxi cabs will not work, and there are two reasons why. Many of the customers that use the taxis are families of groups of more than four persons. A small cab would not be the best option as most of the time, people want to travel together. Another issue was the high speed bumps in some of the streets; it would be almost impossible for small vehicles to go over these without causing damage. The taxi drivers are looking forward to meeting with the local authorities and sharing with them their opinions and ideas in order to make this project work.
The SPTC hopes that when this program is implemented, it will bring the level of customer service to its highest on the island, with the taxi drivers playing an important role in it. Guerrero pointed out incidents in the past that have jeopardized taxi drivers’ reputation. “There have been past events on the island that have involved taxi drivers, and that is not good for the Tourism Industry, or for them. There is the case of one of their members accused of sexual assault. Again, it hurts the tourism industry, and even though the court has yet to decide whether that person is innocent or not, we have to work to fix those issues that can affect us all. So we will work together with the BTB, who will provide them with training. We want to have good caliber taxi drivers out here, meeting the people so we can always have that good impression when our tourists get to the island,” stated Guerrero.
The date for the training is yet to be announced, as the BTIA and the BTB are putting the final details of the project together. The SPTC will work closely with these organizations to guarantee the success of the program so that the island can get well qualified taxi drivers in the customer service area.
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