Mexican Cabbies Rile Against Taxi AppsBy Fernanda Duque Hernández
Drivers demand government to cease irregular intervention of foreign companies.
The recent inclusion of transport services through mobile applications such as Cabify, Easy Taxi and Uber have become a source of discontent for thousands of taxi drivers in Mexico City, who claim that the Mexican government has done nothing to stop these companies – which they claim are working outside the law – from affecting the local economy.
Due to a perceived lack of solutions to meet their requests, 140 groups of on-call taxi companies took to the streets of Mexico City last Monday in protest. They warned that if authorities continue with their indifference to this problem, more protests will be raised until the operation of companies such as Uber and the 30,000 alleged “pirate” taxis stop operating.
“The law provides legal procedures to generate concessions in the city. Currently, Mexico City is the city with more taxis in the world,” said Ignacio Rodriguez, a cab company spokesman, to CNN Expansion. “This invalidates the ambitions of the government to grant more concessions that will cause an excess demand of the service and further impoverishment of the sector.”
Broadly speaking, apps such as Uber, Cabify and Easy Taxi allow clients to see which cabs I their area are certified. The client then “taps” the closest cab displayed on the smartphone, which arrives at the client's location. Rates are calculated by distance and are automatically charged to the client's debit card. Because of this, many cab companies have criticized this service for the effect it may have on their business, as the these companies may be operating as a taxi companies themselves and should be subjected to the corresponding regulations.
So far, Mexico City’s Secretariat of Mobility (Semovi) has rejected the option of taking action against taxis affiliated to the app companies. Nevertheless, the government office announced that on Wednesday, talks will be held between the city hall and the cab companies, highlighting that the main objective is the welfare of consumers.
A yet to be determined second discussion between taxi drivers and the private taxi app companies will also be scheduled. So far, only Easy Taxi and Cabify have confirmed their participation.
On Monday, while taxi drivers across Mexico were protesting on the streets, Uber and Easy Taxi decided to release promotions and even free rides. According to experts, these actions may improve the general public’s opinion of the app companies.
“As an innovative business model in Mexico, there is still no regulation to guide us, or as experts have called, there is a legal vacuum in the country,” Cabify stated through a press release regarding the taxi drivers’ demand for proper regulation. “In Cabify, we want to continue offering quality service in accordance with the law; so far we are looking for a fair regulation for all operators”.
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