Cabify, a car service similar to Uber, uses automated billing. // © 2016 Cabify
Feature image (above): In addition to most major cities in the U.S., Uber also operates in several tourist hubs in Mexico. // © 2016 iStock
As in many cities around the world, taxi drivers in Mexico hate Uber. A lot. But for many locals and international visitors in Mexico’s largest cities, the ride service has become the perfect transportation alternative, especially in destinations where street taxis are sometimes considered unsafe for foreigners. But is it right for you and your clients?
“I use Uber all the time because it’s a guarantee of service and quality,” said Lucia Samaniego, president of LS Publicas & Marketing, a Mexico City-based public relations firm. “The cars are clean and new, the fares are lower than taxis, and it’s very convenient to not have to pay in cash, since the charge goes directly to your credit card and they send you a receipt. Regular taxis don’t offer this service.”
Rafael Bessa, CEO and owner of Rafael Bessa Signature, a public relations and marketing agency based in London and Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte in Brazil, agrees.
“It’s more convenient and safer than a street taxi,” he said, noting that he has used Uber as a foreign visitor to Mexico multiple times, and that it doesn’t matter where you’re from — as long as you have Wi-Fi access or a roaming connection, you can use the service. “I have the app, so it’s easier to take an Uber than a street taxi. I trust Uber as a company. Uber has new cars, too; they’re clean, and the drivers are helpful.”
Jovani Velazco, a representative from Corad, a Mexico City-based DMC, recommends Uber as well as another similar car service — Cabify — for foreign visitors.
“It’s a platform that offers a lot of security for users, providing everything from information like license number, car make and color to the name, photo and phone number of the driver,” he said. “It has helped to improve transportation in an efficient manner, while offering better service at better prices.”
Uber operates in several cities in Mexico, including Aguascalientes, Chihuahua, Cuernavaca, Guadalajara, Merida, Mexicali, Mexico City, Monterrey, Puebla, San Miguel de Allende and Tijuana. Cabify, which was founded in 2011, operates in 10 countries and 25 cities in Latin America, Spain and Portugal; in Mexico, it’s present in Guadalajara, Leon, Merida, Mexico City, Monterrey, Puebla, Queretaro and Toluca. Both Cabify and Uber operate with a similar format, using apps and automatic billing.
With Cabify’s Executive and Lite service options, drivers offer bottled water and magazines to passengers. The company also offers a category called Cabify Fly, providing on-demand aircraft and helicopter service for up to six passengers. The Mexico City service also offers accessible rides onboard four-passenger Peugeot minivans with ramps. And in Queretaro, Cabify offers a pet option designed to transport furry friends along with up to two human passengers.
“Both the Uber and Cabify apps have been developed to offer good service with great security and efficiency,” said Velazco, adding that he generally uses Cabify, however, “because it has clearer fares, whereas Uber has promotions that can confuse the cost of service.”
Diana Miller, founder of Esencia RP, a public relations agency in Mexico City, also recommends Uber for visitors to Mexico, although she notes that the service isn’t always perfect.
“I recommend Uber because of its speed and comfort, although it’s become so large that sometimes the drivers aren’t familiar with routes or peak traffic times; they lack the experience of a normal taxi driver,” she said. “But still, I prefer Uber.”
Samaniego says she has had some positive experiences with Uber that would never have happened with a regular taxi.
“On several occasions, I’ve left personal items in a car, like my iPhone, my house keys, a bunch of magazines,” she said. “And they’ve always been returned to me immediately, since the drivers always check to make sure that the passenger hasn’t left anything behind before they pick up the next passenger.”