In most cities in Colombia, it’s quite common to see mototaxis ferrying other riders for cash. This informal method of public transportation offers riders a simple, fast and economical way of getting from point A to B. More often than not the service is used by locals in the lower strati although from time to time you can glimpse foreigners as well who appreciate the simplicity.
As a form of employment, the casual style offers the young, old, inexperienced and unemployed an easily developed source of income. In slow economic times this has been especially important for many families who would otherwise be unable to feed their families.
Meanwhile, the government is looking for ways to eradicate mototaxis altogether and to find a solution for the thousands of people who are currently operating them. In fact, the municipal goverment imposed regulations in 2011 requiring motorcycle owners to license their vehicles and to pre-register passengers online. Owners need to carry the registration with them so that in case they are stopped, the police can easily ascertain whether they are authorized to carry their rider.
Obviously, pre-registering requires advance knowledge of future passengers, and therefore eliminates the ability of drivers to pick-up random fares. However, if you’ve ever traveled along the outskirts of the city or to any of the poorer sections, you know how easy it is to hail a motorcycle. More often than not, drivers pre-register their friends and hope they don’t get caught when carrying others. Those unlucky enough to be pulled over with an unauthorized rider face stiff fines up to $ 114,900 COP.
According to the Secretary of Mobility, the government is worried about public safety stemming from uncertified drivers who don’t have the necessary training and experience to perform commercial services. That said, there are no courses or programs visibly being offered for motorcycle owners who carry their families nor for owners who have pre-registered passengers, so it isn’t clear where the benefit stems in this specific case. The government is also citing road congestion, pollution, and interestingly, skin diseases from unapproved helmets and finally, they are also hoping to reduce criminality due to a wave of criminal acts perpetrated by riders of motorcycles. According to their fact sheet, there were 3200 such homicides in 2010.
There are also time restrictions for motorcycles carrying authorized passengers (from 5 am to 11 pm) and specifics identifying prohibitions in certain regions. To learn more about restrictions and expectations, you can visit the website below: