Uber lets state deadline pass; vows to stay in Mérida

Since announcing their arrival in Mérida last March, Uber has been a divisive topic. Photo: Sipse
Uber has ignored a state deadline to register its business, and has vowed to stay in Mérida. Photo: file

This story has been updated to include a statement from Uber’s Latin American headquarters.

Mérida, Yucatán — Today is the final deadline for Uber drivers and anyone else using digital platforms to connect with paying passengers.

Drivers are required to register their vehicles under recent amendments to the state transport act.

Individuals and companies that do not register with the State Transportation Directorate by today will be considered pirate taxis. Uber missed its Sunday deadline to file legally required paperwork. 

The state authority will determine the number of permits that will be issued after receiving and reviewing business records.

Neighboring states have been tough on the ride-sharing platforms, which have proven popular with the public. 

In Campeche, the government arranged special operations to hunt down the Uber partners because they do not comply with the local transportation law. 

In Cancun, Uber met with the Secretariat of Infrastructure and Transportation (Sintra) after 29 drivers were penalized during the platform’s first two weeks of operations.

Since announcing their arrival in Mérida last March, Uber has been a divisive topic. Photo: Sipse

The latest reported conflict is up in Tijuana, where city officials towed 33 Uber vehicles before the company issued a statement declaring that company representatives are now in talks with the city. Uber had been operating — under an uncertain status — in the border town since 2014.

“As always, at Uber we are in favor of a regulation that embraces innovation for the benefit of the majority of citizens, that generates self-employment and improved mobility,” it said.

In San Luis Potosí, Uber responded to regulations with an “#UberSeQueda petition.”  

“Together, defend the right of all Potosinos to choose how, where and when to move,” Uber implored readers.

Uber has 50,000 drivers in Mexico City, now the busiest city in the world for Uber. The number of Uber drivers in Yucatán is around 6,000, an Uber spokesman told Yucatán Expat Life. (See full statement below.)

The company has experienced a tenfold increase in rides across Latin America in the last year and plans to be in around 200 cities by the end of 2017, up from 92 cities today. 

“A lot of our attention and resources are shifting toward Latin America,” says Rodrigo Arevalo, Uber’s head of Latin America. “We see ourselves as a fuel center and contributor for other regions where we are facing more fierce competition.”

Taxi drivers around the country are agitated that Uber drivers arrive more quickly, are cheaper, and provide seamless credit card transactions. They have vowed before federal authorities to call a national strike if Uber is allowed to operate freely with impunity.

Yucatán’s transport law, passed last June, states in part that ride-sharing drivers must own their own car, take only credit card payments, and register with the state. Uber began signing up drivers in Mérida last February, hitting the roads by March.

Update 2:51 p.m. CST:

Uber’s press office responded to our query with the following:

Eight months ago Uber arrived in Merida and brought with it a momentous change in its mobility. Since then, more than 370,000 citizens, about half the population in Mérida, have placed their trust in Uber and the partners to reach their next destination.

At Uber we have a commitment to the thousands of citizens who have used the application. With more than 90,000 tourists (from more than 70 countries) who have used Uber to get to know Mérida and with the more than 6,000 [drivers] who connect to the platform to earn extra money, while offering service that is safe, efficient and accessible.

Unfortunately, the current regulation limits access to a safe and efficient transportation option for those who do not have access to a credit card and restricts self-employment opportunities for those members who wish to drive through Mérida or grow their business with more than one vehicle.

Therefore, thinking of all those thousands of Yucatecans who benefit daily from the use of the platform, Uber will stay in Mérida and will continue to function as it has done so far.

#ElSurNoPara

Sources: Sipse, Union-Tribune, CNN Money, Uber

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