By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Taxi drivers in São Paulo resumed protests today, May 11th, against the previous day’s decree from Mayor Fernando Haddad. The mayor’s decree essentially authorized the use of Uber and other smartphone-based ride-sharing-applications in the city.
By 6AM, early Wednesday morning, May 11th, angry taxi drivers had already set up a barrier of tires blocking three of the four lanes of the Prestes Maia Avenue, at the entrance of João Paulo II tunnel in the center of the city. This busy route, known as the North-South corridor, is the main thoroughfare connecting the city to the Congonhas airport.
By 7:40 AM, the effects of the protest could be seen in traffic congestion downtown. According to the Companhia de Engenharia de Tráfego (CET), traffic at that time in the city center was moving at about 43 km per hour. The average for this time, according to the CET is normally between 44 and 73 km per hour.
The decree signed by the Mayor Haddad, called the OTTC (Operators Technology and Accredited Transport), will permit the use of Uber and other ride-hailing apps, however drivers will now be required to pay a mileage fee of R$0.10 for each kilometer driven with a passenger. Also, the decree sets out lower fees for drivers servicing less popular locations, such as the suburbs or other outlying areas.
According to the city, the model will ease traffic flow in the city, especially in the highly congested areas at peak times. In a released statement, Uber called the mayor’s decision “the first step toward guaranteeing that apps intermediating travel with technology have a place in the city.”