Thursday, ride-hailing platform Über restarted its Colombian operations with a modified legal operating model, after adverse rulings and harassment from the taxi sector were able to cause the company to cease operations in the country a month ago.
Rather than ride hailing, the passenger technically is renting a car with a driver for a short time under the new model. The application thus, facilitates a contract between the driver, who now becomes a vehicle lessor, and the passenger, now the lessees.
Über has branded its Colombia offering with five tiers:
- PorHoras: Renting a vehicle for the time of the passenger’s trip.
- UberYa: Renting a vehicle with a driver for a particular destination.
- Economy: Über service with older vehicles at a lower price.
- Comfort: A premium alternative similar to Über Black in other countries.
- XL: Larger vehicles for groups or passengers with additional luggage.
In a statement, Über emphasized that it has paid $70 billion COP in Colombian taxes. Finance Colombia previously reached out to Colombia’s Superintendencia de Industria y Comercio for comment on this issue but the agency declined comment.
Taxi Syndicates Furious, Call For National Strike
— Andrés Currea H. ? (@CurreaAndresH) February 21, 2020
Colombia’s Taxi Cartels, led by frontman Hugo Ospina and his APCT (Association of Taxi Owners & Drivers), have reacted angrily, and called on a national taxi strike for March 16 across the country. The taxi organizations did not participate in the mass protests of November 2019, because according to Ospina, they made a deal with Colombia’s President Ivan Duque, that they would not participate in the protests if Duque’s administration booted Über and other similar ride sharing services such as Picap from the country.
In some parts of Colombia, especially Bogotá, taxi drivers have an infamous reputation with visitors and locals alike for rude and criminal behavior, adding to the popularity of alternatives such as Über.