Uber Launches Puerto Rico Operations
SAN JUAN – Multinational ride-hailing company Uber has officially announced it will start service in Puerto Rico on Monday, for free. Thousands of people have registered as drivers.
“Puerto Rico, your Uber has arrived. And it is free. Starting at 10 a.m., you can move around with Uber and, in addition, because we are celebrating our arrival, all trips are free,” a notification on the San Francisco-based company’s mobile application reads.
Uber’s spokesman for the Caribbean and Latin America, Luis de Uriarte defended the service and said it has revolutionized the transportation industry.
“We have more than 100 regulations in the world and are a company that is turning 6 years old.”
Meanwhile, the executive director of the Public Service Commission, Omar Negrón said a cease and desist order will be sought against Uber.
Negrón said there is no communication with the company, even though letters have been sent.
“Uber is starting operations while violating the law,” he said, adding that it is considered a transportation company under Act 109, “which requires the Commission to go to San Juan Superior Court and file preliminary and permanent injunctions to order Uber to cease and desist from its intentions.”
For the president of the Federation of Taxi Drivers, Juan De León, “what this company is doing is a coup, it is a decree of war on our country,” and added that the Tourism Co. will fine drivers in light of the Act 282, which regulates tourism service drivers.
Monday’s free service applies to trips that start in the metropolitan area, including Dorado, Toa Baja, Cataño, Bayamón, San Juan, Guaynabo, Trujillo Alto and Carolina.
Uber already operates in more than 400 cities including Mexico City, Paris and Sao Paulo, where the company has faced angry protests organized by taxi drivers.
Otoniel Adorno, president of a Puerto Rico taxi driver union, had told the Associated Press that drivers already are suffering under a 10-year economic slump that is worsening.
“We are already forcing ourselves to work 14, 16 hours a day so we can break even,” he said, adding that Uber would kill them financially. “That would be devastating for us.”
Some Puerto Ricans celebrated Uber on social media, noting there are few affordable or reliable alternatives for people without cars.