The expansion of Uber, the mobile phone ride-hailing service, continues along with strong opposition from traditional taxi operators who see a threat to their livelihoods.
This week, Uber added six cities — Aguascalientes, Cuernavaca, Hermosillo, Mérida, Mexicali and San Luis Potosí — to its Mexico portfolio, bringing the total to 14.
Not on the list is the city of Oaxaca, capital of the state of the same name, but that hasn’t deterred the local taxi drivers’ union from protesting the introduction of the service, which is planned for this summer.
Their protest yesterday focused on what they claim are planned modifications to the city’s transport law, which allegedly would pave the way for Uber. The state government denied that such modifications are being discussed, and after a few hours taxi drivers removed their vehicles from the capital’s historic center, to the relief of motorists.
Uber’s entry in Cuernavaca, capital of the state of Morelos, was not wholly successful as the Mobility and Transport Secretariat ordered the seizure of all vehicles affiliated with the service.
According to Secretary Jorge Messeguer, Uber can’t operate in the city because it lacks the necessary permits to do so, but he invited the company to approach him to solve the issue by issuing an invitation via his Twitter account.
“We aren’t opposed to new options for the users of public transport, but all should be done in a regulated manner,” tweeted Messeguer.
At least two Uber-affiliated vehicles were impounded in Cuernavaca yesterday.
Earlier this week in Guadalajara, capital of Jalisco, unionized taxi drivers protested against the ride-hailing service. By the end of the day, one police officer was injured and 47 people had been arrested.
Some taxi companies have registered drops in demand of 60%, said one company representative, and “we can’t survive.” He warned that protests could continue if their demands aren’t met.
While the taxi drivers protested, Uber offered a promotional code giving its users free rides between 10:00am and 7:00pm. “As today is a difficult day to get around, we’ve decided to give away Uber rides to all users in the city, because if Guadalajara doesn’t stop, Uber doesn’t either,” said the company in a communique.
By that evening, over 2,000 taxi drivers had gathered in downtown Guadalajara where several confrontations were reported.