Mexico City taxi drivers demand shut down of Uber, countering protest Uber provides free cabs

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Photo credit: theguardian

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Hundreds of taxi drivers in Mexico City protested against the US taxi provider, Uber and demanded that the authorities should shut down this online ride service. Countering the protest, Uber provided free rides to customers throughout the day to drive all the criticism directed its way.

The drivers said that Uber and other ride-sharing services evade the tax, registration and safety laws that regular cabs are subjected to.

The event was organized by the Organized Mexico City Taxi Drivers association (TOCDMX). The demonstrators rallied across major parts of the city including  Paseo De La Reforma Avenue and Zocalo, Mexico city’s largest square.

“We have to pay for car taxes, taxi license plates, permits, and all the rest, while Uber drivers just pay for vehicle verification and that’s it,” Juan Luis Uscandia, a Mexico City driver told a news agency.

Addressing the rally, Taxi drivers’ leader Eleazar Romero said that, “we are not against technology. We just want a level playing field, we want everyone to follow the same tax rules we do.”

Responding to the protest, the company said on the website, “As today is a difficult day to get around, we have decided to give away Uber rides to all users, because #MexicoDoesntStop #UberDoesntStop.”

The San Francisco based company, Uber allows individuals who submit applications to offer transport services without their cars having any kind of special license.

In December 2014, the taxi drivers had filed a complaint against Uber for violating the mobility law of Mexico. According to IANS, the law’s Article 258 states that companies commit the crime of “illegal passenger or cargo transport” when they use vehicles lacking “a concession or permit issued by the (mobility) secretariat for those purposes.”

Uber has often been criticized for acting as an informal taxi service, undermining workers’ rights and forcing taxi drivers out of business.

BBC review of complaints against Uber show that customers have alleged misunderstanding regarding Uber Technologies’ pricing. They further alleged that consumers have difficulty in reaching out to a customer service representative to get their concerns addressed.

The free ride offer may appear enticing to the users at first, however, it can have grave effects in the long-run.

Exempted from paying car taxes or possessing license plates and permits, the cab service provider has full freedom to put the safety of passengers at risk.

Last year, Uber halted its operations in New Delhi after one of its drivers was arrested for allegedly raping a passenger. The incident is a proof that how dangerous a taxi ride can become if the cab services are excused from following basic public transport rules.