There is a paradox regarding taxis in Cuenca. Virtually every taxi has a taxi meter (or is at least wired for one) but no one – not a one – uses them. It’s fun to joke with some of the friendlier taxi drivers about it.
They’ve told me that it is the law, but because no one uses them, it isn’t enforced – not unlike many other laws on the books.
A few times taxi drivers have asked for an extremely high rate – like triple the usual rate for a route we commonly took. When I asked them about it, they told me that that was the rate, period. I asked them: “What does the meter say?” Many times they backed down and gave me the normal rate.
When the rate is too high, we simply tell the driver what we normally pay for that route. And they have always adjusted the price to what it should be. We never try to negotiate the price below normal – we just want to pay what everyone else does.
He also told me about the time that he got a tip. (On a side note: tipping taxi drivers isn’t the custom.) He told me that the fare was $6 and the passenger gave him $10 and told him to keep the change. This happened years ago, and he still talks about it. Shows the impact we can have.
When my parents were in Cuba, they traveled by horse and buggy. No meter needed… You won’t find many horse and buggies in Cuenca – except at Paradise Park on Sundays.