Taxi Wars: Uber Displaces Thousands of Workers in Tijuana By mackenzie quinn

The introduction of a digital age into a third world country has highlighted the issues with current transportation, but can the rising competition drive out this country's deep rooted taxi history.

"My name is Alberto," said Alberto Montes Macias, a local taxi driver. "I've been a taxi driver for five years now because it's a job here at the border where you're your own boss."

Many others who have come to cities and border towns in Mexico often succumb to pitfall of working the maquillas, or factories. But for those who would rather work independently, the only way to do so was to buy and drive a taxi.

However, with recent and dramatic crime increases in areas, taxis are getting a bad reputation.

Maria G. is a female Uber driver, and asked not to be on camera. She kept adjusting her oversized sunglasses as she explained how often horror stories came from taxi riders.

“Well, the taxis are a bit less secure," Maria elaborated. "For example a lot of people that get one tell me that they’ve gotten into the taxi and things have happened to them. Like they assault them, and they don’t want to let them [out of the vehicle]."

"Yes it's bad," she continued. "When one drives, they're always with the fear if they're going to return home."

In 2017 the United States Bureau of Diplomatic Security investigated into 81 kidnappings that happened in Mexico for extortion/ransom. They expressed that the most common method of kidnappings that were seen were using “libre taxis.”

While all taxis in Mexico are required to be apart of a union, the laxidasical regulations in place are starting to allow crime to overtake these widespread devices. And companies like Uber have been quick to try and take advantage of riders fears by providing a more secure ride.

“I think they feel more safe with the service because to be a driver you have to meet certain requirements and the people feel safer with an Uber driver," said Joel Garcia, who has been an Uber driver for four months now.

Sense its launch in 2013, Uber has invested over $500 million in trying to gain control over the Latin America transportation market.

In 2017 it was estimated that 46% of people living in Mexico have used an app for mobility services. But Uber alone currently has over 7 million users registered in the area, shutting out the other major competitors that other countries see.

Their success is in regulation.

“For example in Uber you can check license plates, a picture of the person, his name. So you should always be aware," warned Maria, "in taxis you don’t really know.”

While safety is a concern for most that has not stopped everyone from using traditional taxis.

Both drivers in Tijuana say there’s enough rides to go around but it will be up to user to decide what transport they want to take.

“There’s plenty of jobs it’s very busy as soon as you finish a ride you’ll get another notification for another ride," said Joel.

Whatever riders pick, Ubers presence tells the possibility of Mexico’s future may hold. There is no doubt that taxis will remain in Mexico for quite some time however Ubers undeniable success in the once closed off market leaves many speculating.


Created with images by Hans Vivek - "Hey Taxi"

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