A new reform to the City Transit and Transportation Code in Buenos Aires makes it illegal for school bus drivers to take protesters to marches, demonstrations or political rallies, something that is somewhat of a common practice in Argentina. On Thursday, the legislature debated and amended its code to increase the punishment for what they consider “illegal transportation” — which largely affects them as well as Uber drivers.
The main changes introduced by this reform are within Article 6, dictating that school bus drivers who transport passengers who are not within their authority to transport — i.e. protesters — will be fined up to AR $35,000 and will have their professional license taken away from them. Strange as it may sound, it is usually common to see dozens of school buses lined up near the location of political rallies and demonstrations in the city, as bus drivers use their vehicles to help political and social organizations increase attendance to this sort of events. Similarly, the reform increased the punishment for public transportation drivers who are under the influence of alcohol.
However, the interesting catch is that this diction does not specifically name protesters, so it also applies to school buses transporting, for example, the elderly to events around the city.
Legislator Silvia Gottero voted in favor of the reform in general, but had some complaints about Article 6 specifically. She stated that “obviously we agree to punish [the school bus driver] if they are not sober, but we do not think they should have their license taken away for taking retirees to the movies or theater.”
The second section, Article 10, introduced a higher punishment for “obstruction of traffic.” Basically, if a bus blocks the flow of traffic, they will equally be fined up to AR $35,000. A Vamos Juntos (the Cambiemos party in the city) legislator, Francisco Quintana, said that this amendment to the law is “aimed at the buses that are parked on Av. 9 de Julio when there is a march, because they block most lanes for several blocks.”
“It seems to us that the implementation of this reform will have a very obvious deterrent effect in the short term since the vast majority [of the people who attend marches] get there using buses,” Quintana finished.