Friday, December 23, 2011

Bicitaxi - An inexpensive way to commute in Colombia

They are everywhere. I suppose it is quite convenient to take one of these from the bus station to your house or back for what would be close to 50 cents. You will mostly see them waiting by the Transmilenio stations or by the supermarkets. Many people use them to travel that last leg from the bus system to their homes when it is quite late to be walking on the streets or when it is raining.
Do you just want to go to the super and not pay for parking? one of these street warriors will take you. Yes, you guessed it, you have to pay for parking there to. That does not guarantee you that your car won't get vandalized or scratched, it just allows you to park. That's what I would do. After all, 50 cents is cheaper than paying four dollars to park your car, the gasoline and the risk.

You will also see them around middle and low income neighborhoods such as this one. In general they make part of what is called in Colombia informal jobs (Trabajo informal). Around 57% of Colombia's labor force occupies an informal occupation. These are occupations that don't contribute to the tax system, but that at the same time don't receive any kind of social benefits. The reason is not always a lack of formal employment, but rather a fear of losing many of the subsidies that the government provides to low income families such as elementary education. We will revisit the topic of labor informality in Latin America in future posting.

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