May 19, 2024
Other Norms

Colombia Government Developing New Law Enabling Uber-Type Taxi Operations

Colombia’s national innovation and digital transformation adviser to President Ivan Duque publicly announced January 14 that the Duque administration and various allies in the Colombian Congress are developing a new law that will legalize more technology-platform taxi operations — like the now-illegal “Uber” taxis.

Government initiatives to ban unlicensed taxis — including “Uber” — have been in the works for years, long before President Duque took office in July 2018. But the long-expected ban finally takes effect February 1, 2020.

Victor Manuel Muñoz, national innovation and digital transformation advisor to the President of Colombia, revealed in a January 14 press conference at the Transport Ministry that the national government’s new scheme will take a few more months to develop.

Until the new law takes effect, Uber Colombia announced January 10 that it will comply with the February 1 regulation, which disallows continued operations of private taxis that fail to conform to all tax, insurance and licensing regulations in Colombia.

“Uber respects the law and the decisions issued by the authorities,” according to the Uber-Colombia press bulletin. “However, decisions like [the ruling by the Transport Ministry] also respond to the absence of a regulation covering the collaborative mobility service through technology platforms in Colombia.”

According to a January 14  press statement from the Colombian president’s office, the Duque administration “will work together with the Congress of the Republic to present a [law and] regulation, so that [Uber-like digital] platforms can legally provide their service in the country.”

Three political parties in Congress that collectively represent a majority are already working with the administration on a new bill: Centro Democratico, Partido Verde and “La U,” as noted in a separate report from Colombian business newspaper Portafolio.

The proposed law would enable private individuals to offer Uber-like taxi service without affiliation to a conventional taxi company. However, these individuals, their vehicles, and their affiliated technology-platform operators would have to enroll in a new “National Unique Registry of Private Intermediate Transport Service” (“Runspti” in Spanish initials), according to the report.

A mandatory insurance policy would cover drivers, passengers, vehicles and third parties, without which the individual driver would be blocked from enrolling in “Runspti.”

In addition, the technology-platform operators (tapping “Uber-like” private drivers) would be required to contribute 1% of earnings to a new national fund designed to compensate today’s legal taxi drivers, who pay vastly higher costs-of-operation than the illegal drivers.

Unlike “Uber” operators, legal taxis in Colombia today pay huge sums (around US$30,000 to US$40,000 per vehicle) for a “cupo” (quota) enabling circulation in various cities.

The new legislation aims to phase-out or modify this quota system in future years, hence enabling conventional taxis to compete with “Uber-like” taxis on a cost-equivalent basis.

In the meantime, Colombia’s Transport Minister Ángela María Orozco announced January 10 that Colombia already has 24 alternative, tech-platform private transport services that meet existing regulations (unlike “Uber.”)

“The use of technological platforms for the provision of the transport service in the individual mode of passengers in taxi vehicles are regulated by the national government Decree 1079 of 2015 and by the Ministry of Transportation,” Orozco stated.

“There are currently around 24 platforms enabled for this purpose. In no way are we against technological development. We support initiatives of this nature, but the life of passengers and the provision of public transport services must be protected under the technical and legal conditions established by Colombian regulations.

“Reforms must be carried out in the Congress of the Republic to anticipate new phenomena of collaborative [transport] economy, to allow a leveling of the rules-of-the-game for all actors, with new conditions of qualification,” she added.

As noted in a separate report from Colombian newspaper El Tiempo (citing Transport Ministry data), the existing, legal, alternative tech-platform transport services include “Etaxi,” “Prontuz,” “Red Amarilla,” “Acar Technology,” “Taxi Finder,” “Farley,” “Coopebombas,” “Taxis Ya,” “Digi+,” “City Taxi,” “Taxi Web,” “Mi Águila,” “Taxi Élite,” “T-driver,” “Me Voy,” “Megataxi,” “White cloud,” “Infotaxi,” “Muvit,” “Smart Taxi,” “Yougo,” “Quua,” “Taxis Cabarellos,” “Play Taxi,” “Taxis Cafetalito” and “Rio App.”

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