The conflict between taxis and rideshare services in Cancún and around the state of Quintana Roo has escalated in recent weeks, catching some tourists in the metaphorical crossfire and leading to calls for a taxi boycott.
Quintana Roo taxi unions are up in arms after a federal court ruled that the rideshare service Uber can operate in the state without a public transport license. Taxi companies are required to obtain the license, which comes with high costs.
@soyguselcancunence Hasta cuando #imoveqroo #cancunmexico #fyp #parati #viral #uber #turistas ♬ sonido original – Soy Gus
On Jan. 11, two federal judges in Cancún complied with a 2021 Supreme Court ruling that Uber is a private service and does not need to comply with the same regulations as public transportation.
Following the court’s decision, there have been a series of violent retaliations involving taxi drivers.
On Jan. 20, drivers from the Andrés Quintana Roo taxi union in Cancún pursued an Uber transporting a family of Russian tourists. After picking up the family from a popular shopping center, taxi drivers followed the vehicle. When the Uber driver tried to avoid them by taking another route, three other taxis intercepted it, forcing the family from the car.
A video of the frightened passengers has circulated widely on social media, encouraging others to share their experiences with taxis in Quintana Roo.
“The Quintana Roo taxi drivers are just another cartel. Don’t ride one,” a Twitter user said.
“These mafia taxi drivers, just like the sargassum, are ending Cancún,” another user said.
“Did you know that one of the most corrupt businesses in the entire world is located in Cancún? Well, it’s actually the taxicab service, “ American Tiktok influencer Chad Scott said in a viral video, claiming that a two-mile ride cost him more than US $25.
There have been other acts of intimidation over the past few weeks: In one incident, a taxi driver punctured an Uber driver’s tires. In another, a tourist was beaten when five taxi drivers tried to prevent his group from boarding an Uber.
In response to the recent incidents, citizens are organizing a strike against the taxi services, calling for residents not to use taxis for one full day on Friday, Jan. 27.
“Enough of their abuse. If they want us to take a taxi, they need to improve their service, not abuse the rates, and always take care of the passenger. Otherwise, Uber will always be the best option,” a Twitter user organizing the protest said.
The taxi unions have defended their actions, claiming that the court’s ruling is unjust.
“Just as today voices have been raised condemning taxi drivers, we also raise our voices to demand certainty and action against the activities that violate our source of income,” the Andrés Quintana Roo taxi union said in a statement.
The major tourist zones in the state, such as Cancún and Tulum, are a coveted market due to tourists’ high purchasing power, and 14 taxi unions have historically held control over the most-visited areas of the state. However, consumer preferences have shifted towards ride-sharing platforms due to lower prices and, some riders say, better service.
On Monday, taxi drivers blocked Kukulcán Boulevard in Cancún, one of the city’s main avenues, for over an hour. This protest caused extensive traffic delays and forced many travelers to miss their flights.
The same day, the U.S. Embassy issued a warning about the behavior of taxi drivers in Quintana Roo, stating that while ride-sharing platforms provide a safe alternative to taxis, “disputes between these services and local taxi unions have occasionally turned violent, resulting in injuries to U.S. citizens in some instances.”