ON MARCH 12, RIDE-SHARING APP Uber finally began operating in Buenos Aires. Or at least tried to.
While some are understandably excited to have more options to get around town, it’s pretty safe to say that not all porteños are psyched.
José Ibarra, General Secretary of the National Federation of Taxi Driver, recently spoke to Radio Latina to express his bitterness toward Uber. “We knew that at any moment Uber was going to start operating in Argentina,” said Ibarra. “We want to ban its arrival” and “if the Uber issue isn’t resolved, we are going to go on strike.”
It looks like he was not bullshitting.
— Andres Chomczyk (@achomczyk) April 12, 2016
As soon as Uber began to pick up its first passengers yesterday, local taxi drivers blockaded major roads across the city, focusing on the busy neighborhoods of Retiro, Caballito and Recoleta as well as the area around the Aeroparque airport.
In an interview, the City of Buenos Aires’ Transportation Secretary Juan José Méndez stated that Uber is considered illegal and that Uber vehicles “will be towed if found” working for the app. “When the service starts operating we will conduct the necessary regulations, there will be no exceptions and they will be treated like an illegal mode of transportation,” he explained. “[The vehicles] will not be confiscated, but towed, as in the case with DUIs. Tow companies will take vehicles until owner present themselves [at the impound],” said Méndez.
Individual taxi drivers have been less than subtle in expressing how they feel about Uber coming to town. A few weeks ago, Uber drivers were being trained in a hotel and taxi drivers gathered to throw stones at the building. Because that’s mature.
— VillaCrespo Noticias (@vc_noticias) April 12, 2016
Here’s hoping they chill out soon and welcome in the 21st century, because the idea of pressing one button and quickly having a car turn up instead of sitting for a half hour for a 152 bus to pass (and that’s assuming it actually stops), or having to forego that last Fernet and Coke to have enough pesos on hand to accommodate the latest taxi rate hike is actually pretty cool.