What ever happened to BTIA’s attempt to standardize taxis?
Saturday, October 1st, 2016
It’s been nine months since the Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) San Pedro Branch president Melanie Paz put forth a goal to develop a standardization plan for taxi services on the island. The plan was to be a collaboration between the BTIA, Mayor Daniel Guerrero, and the local taxi associations. Since the majority of traffic issues entail speeding taxis and driver misconduct, people are wondering when this plan will take action.
According to Paz, due to limited participation from taxi drivers, the plan has not been enacted. The few that have cooperated have promised to gather relevant information to establish a mutual agreement. “We have hosted meetings, but only a few taxi drivers showed up. We have also asked for information regarding their licenses. To be honest, we have not gotten anywhere with it. We have not been successful in getting their input to see what they would like,” said Paz.
Within the standardized plan, taxi drivers would have to have a clean police record, be bilingual (English and Spanish), display a standardized fare rate sheet for all routes on the island inside their cab, wear a photo identification card with name, number, and contact information to report concerns, be properly attired according to the association’s dress code, maintain presentable conditions outside and inside their taxis, and have excellent customer service skills.
Paz stated that the plan stemmed from concerns regarding the current taxi situation on the island: poor-quality vehicles that are untidy and unappealing. Paz stated that the plan should mold the taxi drivers into goodwill ambassadors for the island.
Over the years, many incidents have jeopardized taxi drivers’ reputation, and it is often times that taxis are involved in traffic accidents. “This is a tourist destination, and we get a lot of reports that taxis charge tourists double the fares. It is unfair to take advantage of our tourists. We get complaints about traffic jams and accidents caused by taxis, or that some taxis drive recklessly, and don’t follow traffic regulations when driving. If you go by records, and evaluate all of the traffic accidents from the past couple of years, the majority of them involve taxis. This is the same reason we would like to get all parties involved so we can regulate everything concerning them, because in our eyes, this has really gotten out of hand,” said Paz.
Despite lack of cooperation from the taxi drivers, Paz will continue to work on the plan. “We have not given up, it’s just been put on the backburner due to lack of information. We are trying to work with the taxi associations in identifying how and where improvements can be made. So it’s difficult because we have to depend on other parties to get all the relevant information we need before proceeding,” said Paz.
The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) stated that they are supporting the implementation by not entertaining any more taxi permits, and downsizing taxi cabs. Paz noted that if ratified, all members of the different taxi associations will be required to undergo training in order for them to meet the required standards. The BTIA states that taxi drivers play an important role here in San Pedro, and hopes that this program will upgrade the services and conditions of present taxis.
The San Pedro BTIA confirmed that they will be organizing a meeting in the near future, and will notify the public when the date becomes available.
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