State Dept. warns Cancún visitors against Ubers as taxis protest

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The US Embassy and Consulates in Mexico on Monday issued a security alert for the state of Quintana Roo – home to Cancún, the Riviera Maya and Tulum – warning that passengers could be put at risk by using request-based car services such as Uber and Cabify . caught in a tense exchange between drivers competing for fares.

While the State Department has said that ride-hailing apps “generally provide a safe alternative for taxi drivers,” recent disputes between the app’s drivers and taxi unions have “occasionally turned violent, leading injuries to US citizens in some cases,” the alert read.

The travel alert and the region’s licensed taxi drivers protested blocking the road to the Cancun hotel zone, from where tourists abandon trips to walk to the airport or be escorted by police, reported La Jornada newspaper.

According to Cecilia Román Quijas, head of safety communications for Uber Mexico, the company has teams in the United States and Mexico dedicated to working with police and providing 24/7 customer support.

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Romain said in an email that it is important to clarify that the alert was specific to Cancún due to “widely publicized incidents in very specific tourist destinations.” She cited the State Department’s regular travel advisors, who she said “repeatedly refer to Uber as a safe alternative around the country.”

Natalia de la Rosa Hilario, food writer and head of operations for Mexican food tour company Club Tengo Hambre, says the conflict between the local taxi industry and Uber is not new. With protests going back nearly a decade, “it started since Uber came to Mexico,” she said.

Frank Harrison, regional security director for the Americas at World Travel Protection, a travel risk management company, agreed that the current issues in Cancún and Quintana Roo are just the latest flashpoint in the nationwide anti-Uber sentiment within the taxi industry.

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De la Rosa Hilario said that using Uber has advantages for travelers visiting Mexico, pointing out that the app feels safer for women because the driver is being tracked, you can see where you are going and you don’t need to exchange cash.

But “don’t get me wrong — Uber isn’t the best, either,” de la Rosa Hilario said. She recognizes that similar start-ups use predatory pricing practices and can threaten the livelihood of licensed taxi drivers.

Romain said the safety features in the US Uber app are also available to riders and drivers in Mexico. That includes an in-app emergency button to call 911, Share My Trip and RideCheck (which detects long delays or route deviations), among others.

Harrison said that while Uber is the preferred transportation option for many American travelers, anyone using the app or similar services needs to understand the local mindset. Becoming a taxi company or driver requires licensing, fees and inspections, Harrison noted. He added that drivers are proud of their service and may be turning to transport start-ups.

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While Harrison said he prefers to use licensed taxi drivers when traveling — they can be a helpful source of local information and recommendations — he also recommends checking to see if your hotel has a courtesy shuttle or can arrange one with a driver. reliable.

Unfortunately, Harrison said, there are problems with both fake Ubers and taxis in Mexico. If you found yourself dealing with a bad driver, he said, you should get out of the car, try to take a picture of the vehicle’s license plate and report it to the local tourist police.

In an email to The Post, a State Department spokesperson reiterated the alert information and encouraged anyone planning a trip to Mexico to read the full travel advisory for the country on its website.

“We also encourage US citizens traveling abroad to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP.state.gov) to receive important messages directly about their destination, including timely Alerts and Travel Advisory updates,” a said the email.



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