Rio Taxi Drivers Scamming Ahead of World Cup, City Says

Taxis Drive Along a Street in Rio de Janeiro
Taxis drive along a street in Rio de Janeiro. Photographer: Antonio Scorza/AFP via Getty Images

May 21 (Bloomberg) -- Soccer fans visiting Rio de Janeiro for next month’s World Cup are being told to watch out for drivers who overcharge them for a ride in one of the city’s yellow taxis.

The delay in fitting new meters to the fleet after fares rose 12 percent this year means some passengers and drivers have to work out the fare based on a table. Some drivers who have had the new meters fitted are adding another 12 percent onto fares, said Rio’s consumer watchdog, Procon Carioca.

“They are thieves,” Silverio Barros, a taxi driver in Botafogo, one of the city’s business hubs, said of some of his fellow drivers.

Both the blue seal attached to one side of the new meters and the yellow tag on older models are difficult to spot. Rio’s government expects to fit all taxis with new meters by June 6, six days before the start of soccer’s World Cup.

About one-third of the 500,000 World Cup ticket holders from overseas will pass through Rio, according to Deputy Sports Minister Luis Fernandes.

Procon has called on passengers to pass any grievances over fares to the watchdog.

“Complaints will be forwarded to the department for transport, which could fine, seal the meter and, depending on the severity of the complaint, revoke the driver’s license,” the agency said.

The city’s delay in updating meters makes it difficult to explain to tourists who don’t speak Portuguese why fares can be higher than the amount displayed, Barros said.

“The change has been poorly handled by the city,” said Barros. “These tables are terrible for taxi drivers.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Tariq Panja in Rio de Janeiro at tpanja@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net Dex McLuskey, Rob Gloster