Monday, July 14, 2008

Ticket to Rise

According to Friday's Clarín, the price of a Buenos Aires taxi ride has once again risen. The basic fare will now be 3.80 pesos (about US$1.25), plus 38 centavos for every 100 meters. By international standards, this is still pretty cheap, so it's not likely to deter tourists from taking cabs around town. Yet it's worth noting that this represents an increase of 46 percent since last November, when the basic fare rose from 2.60 to 3.10 pesos.

In that context, the fare increase is symptomatic of an inflation that the current edition of The Economist suggests is a spreading phenomenon throughout Latin America. In Buenos Aires, employees of the state statistics agency INDEC (pictured here) protested earlier this year against alleged government interference in inflation figures, which many independent economics think are double the nine to ten percent the administration admits.

Whether or not that's the case, taxi fares have clearly risen even more, but some services may have improved. Perhaps, if you're stalled in the city's hellacious traffic, and slowed by political protests, potholes, and malfunctioning traffic signals, you might at least be able to watch the latest cartoons on taxi TV.

You could do a lot worse. Last week we rented the 1998 film Pizza, Birra, Faso, co-directed by Adrián Caetano and Bruno Stagnaro, the story of a pack of unemployed punks who collude with a taxi driver to rob his passengers. This shows the dark side of the city and, while I'm sure this sort of crime is far less frequent than hysterical news reports sometimes suggest, I never neglect to lock the doors after boarding a cab.

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