Uber may operate throughout Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN – Changes to the Puerto Rico Public Service Commission’s (CSP by its Spanish initials) Regulations Code will allow transportation network companies, such as ride-hailing service Uber, to operate throughout Puerto Rico as it levels the conditions under which taxi drivers and driver-partners operate, agency President Luis García Fraga announced Friday.
“The new regulation puts taxi drivers and Uber drivers on equal terms, requiring the same documentation and the same operating cost. We do this to benefit our population and promote fair competition between the different existing transportation services,” García Fraga explained in a statement.
In addition, the regulation eliminates tourism regions, so all of Puerto Rico will be considered as a tourism destination. García Fraga said the government “cannot continue making distinctions between areas based on…being an area of greater tourism.” This will allow customers to choose their preferred transportation service while anywhere on the island.
The changes are part of the government’s new public policy, which will allow the CSP to regulate all passenger transportation services, following controversy and disputes that arose between taxi and Uber drivers over tourism areas.
The new regulations, however, stipulate that transportation network companies must indicate the total cost of their trip in advance. In addition, they can only change the total due to customer “negligence.” Customers may also cancel the trip free of charge when more than 5 minutes have elapsed past the driver’s estimated time of arrival.
The new regulation also proposes to standardize metered rates throughout the island and establish new fares after incorporating a “fuel adjustment,” as well as merging all regional taxis and “shopping cars” with tourist taxis.
In the case of transportation network companies, the regulation prohibits their drivers from dropping passengers off in certain areas, such as El Yunque rainforest, due to a requirement of access to telecommunications systems and their potential lack of availability in remote places. The CSP will require these companies to use authorized taxi drivers who meet agency requirements.
The new code also streamlines the processing of complaints with the agency through a special structure to facilitate their filing against drivers who violate the law.
“We understand that the future of transportation in Puerto Rico, both for tourism and as service to Puerto Ricans, will benefit from this change. We know that in the beginning, it will be a learning process, but eliminating these areas and bringing about these changes will benefit all parties involved,” García Fraga added.