Uber Downloads Go Through the Roof as Mexican Taxis Protest
EspañolMonday’s protest from Mexican Taxi drivers, against ride-sharing mobile apps such as Uber, has proved a boon for the San Francisco-based company. After offering a protest-edition special with two free 10-dollar rides, downloads of the app rose by 800 percent, Uber Communications Director for Mexico Luis de Uriarte said on Tuesday.
Unlike Uber, the signs of regulated taxis were off in Mexico on May 25, as some 5,000 drivers took to the streets of Mexico City. Chanting “Get out Uber!” union leaders demanded the government impose a ban on the smartphone-based service.
With the hashtags #UberNoPara (Uber doesn’t stop) and #MexicoNoPara (Mexico doesn’t stop), Uber launched a campaign offering two MEX$150 (US$9.8) fares for free between 7:00 a.m. and 9:59 p.m. on Monday. The initiative not only have become a commercial success, it brought PR blowback on the taxi drivers.
“It’s not a retaliation, because we are not fighting with anyone; giving out the service was the way that we could help in such a difficult day like yesterday [Monday] in terms of transportation,” De Uriarte said.
“We have a sense of duty towards the city … We are helping to decrease the number of DUI-related accidents; most of our users (83 percent) are private drivers … this impacts positively on the number of the cars out there,” he added.
— Armando Regil (@armando_regil) May 26, 2015
“Government is wrong trying to protect a monopoly like the taxi drivers and ignoring thousands of users who want better services.”
“Today while taxi drivers block the city, Uber gives its users two MEX$150 trips,” wrote a local DJ on Twitter, highlighting the company’s seizing of the occasion for the publicity stunt.
Meanwhile, detractors claim Uber is unfair competition, since they are not subject to “car taxes, taxi license plates, permits,” and all the other regulations, as explained by taxi-driver Juan Luis Uscandia.
“We are not against the technology,” said union leader Eleazar Romero. “We want an even floor, where we all have the same tax obligations.”
On Tuesday, local lawmaker Federico Döring, from the National Action Party (PAN), accused the city’s government of delaying the decision: “We have a mobility secretary that looks on from the outside, and a government that doesn’t want to affect the vote of The Panthers [taxi driver union].”
“The city must give us the option to decide whether we want Uber or a taxi. Uber pays income tax, but not local taxes; taxi drivers pay local taxes but not income tax.”