The Battle Of The Ride Share

Uber Calls on Los Cabos Authorities for help vs. Taxi Mafia
BY: FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ

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After the Tuesday morning vehicle assault which occurred on February 26 that caused an accident; injuring an Uber driver and two American tourist passengers, escalated the ongoing feud between the Los Cabos Taxi "Mafia" and Uber. The Uber versus Taxis fight reached a critical crisis where the Uber transportation agency of drivers have asked the government to get involved. 

As reported by several local press media via their print and internet outlets, the February crash was allegedly caused by the taxi driver, who was furious about losing passengers to an Uber driver and caused serious damage to both vehicles. The entire drama unfolded on the four lane trans-peninsular highway, directly in front of the Hilton Hotel's corridor location. 

The video which captured the entire act of vehicle violence reached over 9,200 views and is clear evidence the criminal culprit was the angry taxi driver, who drove his larger automobile into the back of the smaller blue-colored Uber vehicle. The injured Uber driver was transferred to a hospital in the San Jose del Cabo municipality while the guilty taxi driver fled the scene of the accident. 

Worse yet for the Taxi Mafia, is that the place where the tragic incident occurred was on a Federal Zone highway, making it a federal matter and not just a local city-related issue. The video was shared and circulated on social networks like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Clearly showing a white taxi van ramming the Uber driver's blue vehicle, causing it to crash into another car that was in the area. 

The governor of Baja California Sur expressed regret via his twitter account while calling on Congress to work on the transportation mobility law, that will define the parameters of how each transportation agency can co-exist in this tourist vacation paradise. 

Another incident occurred in front of the Riu Hotel where alleged taxi drivers beat up an Uber driver. In a brief speech to the media, Los Cabos Mayor Armida Castro said that she is waiting for State Congress to provide the legal tools from which the City of Baja California Sur can act; however, she warned that she will continue working with the current law in regards to the accusations from Uber drivers that they have been targeted by local policeman and given tickets/citations and are having their driver's licenses taken away. 

So part of the conflict between the tourism taxis, which are the large 12 and 16 passenger vans, and Uber, is the assumption that Uber drivers do now own permits to work in the area. An agenda that has been pushed by the tourism taxis against Uber drivers. Because make no mistake, the smaller white-colored taxi vehicles do not have an issue with Uber, that confrontational argument and fight is between the so-called Taxi Mafia and the new transportation company. 

The Mayor herself has been ridiculed on social media for her response that she did not know the law as it pertains to Uber operating in Mexico. While Ray Villanueva, a Cabo citizen, pointed out, "We all know that most taxi drivers almost do not want to take local Mexicans, because they can't mess with us like they do with tourists and overcharge them. And now that Uber came in, they lose their minds."

Catalina Pascual said, "With what is happening with taxi drivers and Uber, we may no longer have tourism, and it will be the fault of the government."

Andres Alejandro Mata Garcia added, "She (the mayor) does not care if the majority of the people want more accessible and fair price transportation. I feel there is a lack of empathy with the people who need it."

Luis Mario, the injured Uber driver, said that the inspector wanted to stop him and could not and then radioed a taxi driver to obstruct the tourist's passage to the Uber car as seen in the video. He said he will legally sue by providing the video of the incident that went viral as evidence. The head of Transportation in Los Cabos says it was an accident.

Javier Conductor of Uber commented after the accident, "We feel harassed by the government of the municipality of Los Cabos, why? Because they have already hired many prosecutors who are hunting us in the hotel zone. We are worried and outraged because this is practically an attack already against our lives. The accident could have ended fatally worse."

Ramón Ceseña, the Municipal Transportation Director, said the taxi driver was located immediately and went to give his statement. It is estimated that between Los Cabos and La Paz there are 2,000 Uber drivers and local lawmakers have not yet concluded how to apply the new State Transportation Law, as it pertains to Uber. Taxi drivers have protested against the legislative proposal that seeks to regulate Uber and other ride-sharing services and allow them to operate legally.

Uber already operates without formal authorization in Baja California Sur but taxi drivers fear that if it is given the go-ahead to do so legally, it will further diminish their share of the tourism transportation market, which is worth tens of millions of dollars annually, said Mexico Daily News. 

“We have no more time to lose because, in the absence of this law, confrontations that affect all of us have been provoked,” wrote Governor Carlos Mendoza Davis on Twitter. “Our state lives from tourism. I call on the Congress of Baja California Sur to approve the law as soon as possible.”

While the governor pressures Congress to pass the law, taxi drivers in destinations such as La Paz and Los Cabos vow to do all they can to stop it.

“It’s very clear that to provide a transportation service, a license and a series of other things are needed. The private service doesn’t have those things, it’s illegal. We’re going to fight because the wealth of each one of us is at stake,” said Pedro Enrique López, leader of the taxi drivers’ association in La Paz.

However, it's not just the Los Cabos and La Paz taxi drivers who are prepared to fight for their livelihoods. Hundreds of Uber drivers and their supporters protested in Cabo San Lucas months ago to demand authorities take action to stop the acts of aggression against people who only want to earn an honest living.

Other transportation industry stakeholders argue that approval of the new law would help to put an end to the corruption in the taxi industry that is responsible for the outrageous prices they charge. If Uber is given the green light, more protests are likely to follow, warned Ramón Ceseña, municipal director of transportation in Los Cabos.

Locals, tourists and national visitors to Cabo might be tempted to protest as well. The newspaper Milenio reported that the fare from the airport to Cabo San Lucas is $900 pesos ($45 USD) in a taxi, compared with an Uber fare the same distance whose cost is only $486 pesos ($24 USD). 

And therein, lies the value of Uber, the new transportation kid on the block, against the old, high priced, grandfather Taxi fares. Set in their ways and battling the new modern technology to lower costs of Uber.