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Striking taxi drivers snarl traffic in Bogota, Colombia

By Ed Adamczyk
Striking taxi drivers snarl traffic in Bogota, Colombia
Police in Bogota, Colombia, used tear gas on Monday to cope with a strike by the city's taxi drivers, who blocked major roads and intersections in the city. Photo by Leonardo Munoz/EPA

Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Traffic in Bogota, Colombia, was snarled as striking taxi drivers parked their cabs in several streets, demanding more regulation of competitors such as Uber.

Hundreds of taxis from seven major cab companies, as well as those of independent cab drivers, parked at key intersections in the capital Monday morning. The drivers said they would remain off-duty and on strike "for an indefinite amount of time," the Bogota Post reported.

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Sporadic violence, and tear gas thrown by police at striking drivers, was reported in the city of 8 million people.

At issue is the presence of Uber and Cabify, two ride-sharing apps, which taxi drivers say are impacting their income. The two startups, while not licensed in Colombia, have a loyal customer base in in Bogota, and continue to operate as they seek legal status. Traditional taxis in the city do not offer up-front pricing or an incentive to improve customer service, so customers have turned to ride-sharing apps as an alternative. Taxi drivers also have preferred driving zones, and frequently deny service to passengers traveling outside those areas.

Strikers are also unhappy with new government requirements that each taxi has a GPS-based system onboard. They say the one-model-only, driver-purchased computer tablet make the driver an easy target for thieves. The taxi drivers are also upset with city regulations that devote whole lanes of traffic to buses, cyclists and carpooling drivers.

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A similar strike in May, specifically targeting drivers' complaints against Uber, drew 300,000 taxis and their drivers in cities across Colombia.

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