The controversy around last week’s entry of ride-sharing company Uber into the Jamaican market will be high on the agenda as Cabinet meets today, but Our Today readers have declared emphatically their support for its presence.
With its surprise announcement that it had started operations last Tuesday, Uber ruffled feathers within the transport industry – particularly taxi operators who believe the company brings unfair competition into the market, and the Transport Authority which suggested it had been caught off guard and questioned the legitimacy of the service and lack of a discussion about its business model with the regulatory body.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has promised to make public Cabinet’s position after it has looked into the matter.
In its discussions, the Government will have to examine the legality of Uber’s operations in Jamaica, which have been described by the company as a ‘vehicle with driver’ lease arrangement in an effort to get around the regulatory framework which might require it to operate under the watch of the Transport Authority as a public passenger service.
At the same time, it will likely also consider the reaction of the public to the service, and Our Today readers have something to say.
In a poll conducted by Our Today on its website and Twitter last week, 75 per cent of readers said they prefer to use Uber over calling a taxi.
The poll question was: “Now that Uber is up and running in Kingston, Jamaica, will be using their service or calling a taxi?”
Responding on Twitter, @IslandBoyKeeme said:”Uber box food out taxi man mouth. Cah complain cus u much safer taking Uber.”
Another Twitter user, @happy_jamaican, said: “Uber is cheaper and at least you can know for sure if anything goes wrong you can hold someone accountable. Plus those with attitude can be surely flagged and rated as such.”
Among the characteristics of the Uber service is that ride seekers and providers are sent photographs of each other in order to ensure they are connecting with the right person. Users are also able to contact the police through the app if there is any indication that they are in danger.
Individuals who have used the service have also indicated that the costs of Uber rides have been significantly cheaper than taxi service over similar distances.
However, some readers have cast doubt on the service, suggesting that the cheaper costs are only for the short term in order to squeeze competition from taxi services out of the market, as has been the experience in other jurisdictions.
“Cheaper for now,” said @Christi_Satire in response to @happy_jamaican on Twitter.