The number of taxis operating in Havana has been cut by half to 2,000, approximately one for every 1,000 city inhabitants, as part of nationwide fuel-saving measures, the official Communist Party newspaper Granma reported Saturday.
The newspaper quoted Atanasio Reyes, head of transport in the capital, as saying that three-quarters of these 2,000 vehicles would be assigned to carry passengers to and from hospitals.Reyes estimated the reduction would save 30 tons of fuel. The taxis' carburetors also were being fitted with a special device to reduce gasoline consumption, he noted.
Cuba's communist government introduced stringent fuel restrictions and energy-saving measures Aug. 29 to offset what it said was a 2-million-ton shortfall in scheduled Soviet oil supplies.
State tourism companies run a limited number of special taxis, which charge in dollars, for foreign tourists but these were apparently not affected by the latest measure.
Outside Havana in the provinces, horse-drawn buggies are being used as taxis in some towns.
In a separate move, the number of gas stations operating on a 24-hour basis in Havana was cut to 50 from 133, also to save energy.
Reyes said taxi drivers laid off by the reduction would be relocated in other jobs, such as farming. Those who stayed on as drivers would rotate, working for 15 days and spending the other 15 days working on farms.
The government has made production of fresh fruit and vegetables a national priority, especially for Havana, where shortages of food and other consumer articles are most visible.