Travel

Mexico City’s iconic Beetle cabs face extinction

Travellers who want to experience a ride in a ‘bug’ taxi have until the end of the year to do so. — AFP/Relaxnews picTravellers who want to experience a ride in a ‘bug’ taxi have until the end of the year to do so. — AFP/Relaxnews picMEXICO CITY, March 12 — Mexico City’s ‘bug’ taxis, a sight as familiar to locals as black cabs are to Londoners, will be extinct by the end of the year.

The green VW Beetle models, known locally as a ‘Vocho’, have been rattling around the congested streets of Mexico’s capital for over half a century, a reflection of the country’s love affair with the car — in 1973, one in three cars sold in Mexico was a Beetle.

Usually operated with the passenger seat ripped out to make more space for the clients (the rounded classic Beetle is a two-door model), the Beetle proved incredibly popular among taxi drivers as it was cheap to buy, run and repair, and at its height in 2006, Mexico City’s taxi fleet was nearly 50 per cent Beetle.

However, it was never truly suited to taxi work, despite being cheap — as American imports flooded the Mexican market, the primary advantage of the Beetle (its price) was quickly overshadowed by unflattering comparisons when it came to comfort and safety.

Now, none of the remaining ‘Vochos’ will have their licenses renewed at the end of this year, the Mexican government decreed last week — meaning travellers who want to experience an authentic Mexico City taxi ride will need to get a move on. — AFP/Relaxnews