Uber Downloads Go Through the Roof as Mexican Taxis Protest


Espa√ĪolMonday’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.

Mexican taxi drivers claim Uber is an unfair competitor. (Animal Político)
Mexican taxi drivers claim Uber is an unfair competitor. (Animal Político)

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.

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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 ‚Ķ We are helping to¬†decrease the number of¬†DUI-related accidents; most of our users (83 percent) are private¬†drivers ‚Ķ this impacts positively on the number of the cars out there,” he added.

“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 D√∂ring, 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.”

Sources: Milenio, Animal Político.

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