Daily Archives: July 29, 2008

Tijuana taxis changing colors – again

Mexico City is known for its green Volkswagen beetle taxis that make the city streets look like they are sprinkled with green m&ms.

In Tijuana, the city created an unusual system of multi-colored taxis that behaved like buses running around set routes. That’s how it was when I started working in Tijuana in 2000 until things started to change around 2003.  The city’s traditional taxis were backed by powerful unions that the city was afraid to irritate because they had the capacity to shut down the city’s transportation system. So that’s just how things were until the metered New York-style “Taxi Libre” system finally caught on

The “Taxi Libres” started out orange and white under Mexico’s National Action Party(PAN) government.

But then the controversial mayoral candidate, Jorge Hank Rhon, won the city’s election in 2004. Hank, a gambling tycoon, took to painting the city in red, the color of his Institutional Revolutionary Party . Red showed up on walls, fences, and parts of City Hall. And soon the “Taxi Libres” were sporting red stripes instead of orange.

Now that Hank is gone, and the PAN back in power, the red is being scrubbed off the city’s corners (replaced with PAN blue). Meanwhile, the cabs are being painted orange again in what appears to be an inconsequential but symbolic move to erase Hank’s influence from the city streets.