State Dept. Warns Cancún Visitors Against Ubers as Taxis Protest

(Luka Peternel)

(The Washington Post) The U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico on Monday issued a security alert for the state of Quintana Roo – home to Cancún, the Riviera Maya and Tulum – warning that hiring application-based car services such as Uber and Cabify could put passengers at risk of getting caught in a tense exchange between drivers competing for fares.

While the State Department has said transportation apps “generally offer another safe alternative to taxis,” recent disputes between drivers for the apps and taxi unions “have occasionally turned violent, resulting in injuries to U.S. citizens in some instances,” the alert read.

The travel alert came as the region’s licensed taxi drivers have been protesting by blocking the road to Cancun’s hotel zone, leading to tourists abandoning rides to walk to the airport or get escorted by police, La Jornada newspaper reported.

According to Cecilia Román Quijas, head of safety communications for Uber Mexico, the company has teams in the United States and Mexico dedicated to working with police and providing customers 24/7 support.

Frank Harrison, regional security director for the Americas at World Travel Protection, a travel risk-management company, said while Uber is a preferred transportation option for many American travelers, anyone using the app or similar services need to understand the local sentiment. Being a taxi company or a driver requires licensing, fees and inspections, Harrison noted. He added that drivers take pride in their service and may resent transportation start-ups.

While Harrison said he prefers using licensed taxi drivers when traveling – they can be a helpful source of local information and recommendations – he also recommends checking to see whether your hotel has a courtesy shuttle or can arrange a pickup for you with a trusted driver.

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