Pinkcar Launches Operations in P.R.
Editor’s note: The following article originally appeared in the August 31 print edition of Caribbean Business.
SAN JUAN — With more than a year on hold, Pinkcar, the ride-hailing application, made its anticipated debut in Puerto Rico last week. The new service “from women to women,” with about 2,000 female drivers, launched in the San Juan metro area with a specific target in mind: women and children.
Pinkcar officially began its operations on the sunlit afternoon of Aug. 23 with free rides for its passengers. The exclusive app for women and children promises to transform the transportation market and offer an opportunity to female entrepreneurs who aspire to be their own bosses.
“We glimpsed an increase in the total registered users. We will go from our strategy of direct marketing to the drivers, to passenger retention,” explained Melissa Meléndez, legal vice president for Protector LLC, on the Puerto Rican company’s method to attract new users to its platform.
Among its marketing initiatives, Meléndez highlighted a voucher of trips worth $15 for just $5 on Gustazos. The offer, available this week, includes a Starbucks certificate for one latte. In September, Pinkcar will give away 250 gifts from Bettina Cosmetics. Every month will bring a new gift for users.
In what appears to be a fresh start for public transportation on the island, Puerto Rico’s Public Service Commission (PSC) authorized Pinkcar’s operations merely a week after Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed a law to transfer control of all ground transportation operators to the PSC.
Attorney Luis García Fraga, president of the PSC, recently said the new law has made it possible to simplify the process and requirements for ground transportation operators, including taxis and ride-hailing network Uber, which have been at war for more than a year.
“We have become facilitators for the establishment of new companies and streamlined procedures to develop our economy and create new jobs. This new company, Pinkcar Puerto Rico, was able to benefit from this law and managed to establish itself as a business,” García said.
Meléndez explained that although the new law already transferred the regulation of ground transport operators to the PSC, it has yet to prepare the new regulations that will replace the current bylaws of the Transportation & Public Works Department.
“The Public Service Commission Administrative Transformation Act enabled what is known as a provisional permitting system. The new law, for better or worse, allowed a speedy permitting process and we are very satisfied. [The permit] will last one year,” Protector LLC’s legal counsel said.
Even though the new law allows payments in cash for transportation network companies, Pinkcar drivers have shown reluctance to follow this method. “The feedback we have gathered from our drivers is not positive. We will evaluate the option in the next few months,” Meléndez said.
The app is available for Android users and will soon be accessible through the App Store for iOS customers. Among the service’s exclusive aspects is the integration of children as its customers. This option aims to help mothers in need of a reliable person to pick up their children.
To use the service, children must be between the ages of 7 and 15 and can travel on their own, without the company of an adult, to their destination. As a safety requisite to avoid abductions, kids must carry a smartphone to receive a code via text message that must be equal to the assigned driver’s code.
Pinkcar, along with ride-hailing service Procar, are the first apps launched by Protector, a Puerto Rican company that aims to release about 80 new apps in the next 18 months. “We are a local business dedicated to providing security and protection to our users,” Meléndez said.