Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Taxis withdraw blockades; legality of ride-hailing services to be examined

Taxi drivers withdrew their blockades in Mexico City on Monday afternoon after reaching an agreement with the federal government that will see the legality of app-based ride-hailing services examined.

Interior Secretariat undersecretary Ricardo Peralta told a press conference that the government and the National Movement of Taxi Drivers (MNT) agreed to the formation of a group of legal experts who will analyze whether services such as Uber, Didi and Cabify are operating legally in Mexico.

He said that experts from the secretariats of Communications and Transportation and the Interior as well as the Mexico City and México state governments will participate. Meanwhile, talks between authorities and taxi drivers will continue.

While the legal analysis is taking place, the MNT – which protested across Mexico yesterday to demand stricter regulation of the ride-hailing apps –  pledged to refrain from setting up more blockades, Peralta said.

“There is an agreement that under no circumstances will there be any blockade in any of the cities where there were blockades today,” he said. Blockades were in place for about 12 hours, and their removal began after the agreement was reached at about 5:00pm yesterday.

The undersecretary said that if the legal experts determine that Uber, Didi and the like are operating legally, the MNT will be able to develop its own app to allow its drivers to find fares.

The Mexico City government released an app called “Mi Taxi” in September whose main aim is to improve security for taxi passengers but it said that by November, it will be possible to use it to request to be picked up at a designated location.

The México state government said on Monday that it is analyzing the possibility of developing an app to be used by licensed taxi drivers.

Peralta told reporters that the government is committed to establishing a level-playing field for drivers of both taxis and the ride-hailing services.

The MNT argues that it is unfair that taxi drivers have to pay a range of fees and fulfill requirements that don’t apply to drivers who work for the app-based services.

Appearing alongside Peralta, MNT treasurer Ángel Morales confirmed the pledge not to protest while the legality of the ride-hailing apps is being assessed and said that taxi drivers are committed to improving the service they offer.

Protesting taxi drivers in Mexico City.
Protesting taxi drivers in Mexico City.

Ride-hailing services have become increasingly popular in many Mexican cities not only as a result of their convenience but also because they are widely considered to be safer and more comfortable than taxis.

Morales offered an apology for the traffic chaos caused by the taxi blockades in Mexico City but said they were necessary because three months of negotiations with the government failed to yield any progress.

Taxi drivers affiliated with the MNT blocked several major roads in and around the capital starting early Monday morning, including those used to access both terminals of the Mexico City airport.

They also staged protests and set up blockades in cities in the majority of Mexico’s 31 states.

The arrival of Uber and similar services in cities across the country has triggered countless protests by taxi drivers who argue that the newcomers have been allowed to grow indiscriminately without regulation and that their operation poses a threat to taxi drivers’ livelihoods.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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