The Riviera Maya super-destination of Playa Del Carmen has made a serious statement with the removal of the taxi licenses of 41 drivers in the area.
Although taxis play an important part in the Riviera Maya transportation ecosystem, the spotlight has been shining on the industry for all the wrong reasons.
Social media during the month of January was taken over with videos of taxi drivers attacking Uber contractors, often with scared families in the vehicles.
If any questions remain on just how serious this threat to tourism has been taken, it was the taxi drivers’ union itself who decided to take this drastic step. Showing that even amongst their own, the actions of these taxi drivers are condemned.
Reasons For The Bans
This latest action from the taxi drivers’ union has been wide-reaching, with all wide selection of offenses now carrying the threat of a driver having their livelihood taken away:
Taxis Vs Uber
As mentioned previously, the conflict between some taxi drivers and Uber has been a huge worry for both the tourism industry and tourists themselves.
Cancun and Playa Del Carmen were faced with wild scenes of taxi drivers puncturing Uber drivers’ tires with knives, attempting to run Uber vehicles off the road, as well as creating blockades to prevent any onward journey.
The situation deteriorated so drastically that, at one point, local police were recorded loading tourists into the bed of their pick-up trucks and driving them under guard to the airport so they wouldn’t miss their flights.
Thankfully the situation has calmed down considerably, although isolated cases are still being reported. It’s hoped that the loss of some taxi drivers operating licenses will make their colleagues think twice before taking the matters into their own hands again.
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Unfortunately, the act of driving under the influence is still very common in parts of Mexico. The same level of social unacceptability isn’t attached to it like in the United States, although attitudes have been changing in recent years.
Amongst these 41 drivers that have had their operating licenses removed are quite a few cases of DUI.
The act of driving under the influence is never an acceptable action, but doing so while providing a transport service to travelers, including families, is an extra step backward on the scale of responsible business.
Additionally, while questions can be asked about the lax police response to DUIs, the message being sent by the taxi drivers’ union is a strong one.
The horrible experience of being overcharged for a fare purely for being a tourist is a sad reality and not one specific to the Riviera Maya. This is an issue faced by travelers the world over.
It’s difficult to avoid this scam-like action. It’s a repeated story. A taxi driver gives a price that travelers agree on, only to be quoted a much higher price upon arrival at the destination and threatened with police involvement for non-payment if the price increase is refused.
Unsurprisingly this type of experience has fed the popularity of Uber in the area considerably, the set rates from the ride-hailing app and the transparency of the in-app payment system remove this worry from travelers.
No one understands this fact better than the taxi drivers’ union, whose job it is to protect the taxi industry on behalf of its members. Unless the industry and union manage to improve their image fast, the switch over to Uber may prove catastrophic for them.
That is why fare overcharging will be better monitored, and it has now become an offense that will see drivers exiled from the local taxi industry.
What To Do
The taxi drivers’ union has asked that members of the public, including tourists, report any incidents related to those mentioned above.
While it isn’t advisable to confront taxi drivers on any of these behaviors, taking note of their vehicle license plate number as well as their operating license number (which should be prominently displayed on the dashboard), as well as the infraction committed, is helpful for the unions’ investigations.
In the case of DUI, travelers should demand the driver pulls over and exit the vehicle immediately. Being at the mercy of an intoxicated driver isn’t a risk worth taking.
Tourists should also remember that the vast majority of taxi drivers in the Riviera Maya are honest and hardworking people who haven’t taken part in the recent ugliness and are merely trying to earn a living.
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