Just as Bogotá is trying to get reconnected to the world after some 700 Avianca pilots walked off the job last month causing wide spread cancellations of flights, the Colombian capital was subjected Monday to another labor dispute, as thousands of yellow taxi drivers began an indefinite strike, blocking major roads and intersections to protest the app-based platform Uber, and unregulated premium transportation company, Cabify.
The strike by the yellow cab companies managed to cause gridlock during the start of a working week along the city’s main north – south corridors (NQS, Boyacá, AutoNorte, Autopista Sur), as well as the Calle 26, that connects the center of Bogotá with the El Dorado airport and proving, yet again, how contentious the issues involving public transportation are to the 9 million inhabitants of the capital.
The start of an indefinite strike by the yellow taxis as Bogotá prepares to host the most important event for visual arts in the country with the Bogotá International Art Fair (ARTBO), will generate mobility issues for visitors, compounded by the uncertainty of the Avianca strike.
According to Fenalco, the country’s business federation, for every day there is a strike in the capital, 73% of businesses report a 20% decline in sales. Lost productivity, and 35,000 passengers in the TransMilenio system affected for an hour of road blockage are the negative side-effects of the recent strikes targeting not only the Colombian capital, but the connectivity of Bogotá with the rest of the country. During the protests on Monday, 9 TransMilenio buses were vandalized.
While the yellow cab syndicates protest the existence of ride-sharing apps, drivers are also upset at the costs of having to adapt their own vehicles to new technologies that will offer more safety features to passengers, such as a GPS-routing system, and an unadulterated fare pricing on tablets. Monday’s strike was smaller than a similar protest back in May, in which 300,000 cabs across Colombia participated, causing wide-spread chaos in cities.
So, recommendations while visiting Bogotá: give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport, and try to reserve a taxi ahead of time, either through an App or at your hotel.