The taxi drivers in Buenos Aires have a clear plan to answer the Buenos Aires City ruling that Uber drivers are not involved in any illicit activity: keep on doing exactly what they’ve been doing. That means, making life hell for commuters and continuing to fight the ride-sharing app in the courts at every possible turn.
They continued that route today when taxi drivers caused chaos in downtown Buenos Aires by blocking roads in protest of the ruling that was made public this week. The taxi drivers have filed a formal appeal against the ruling. If that appeal fails, the taxi drivers are ready to “take it to the Supreme Court,” José Ibarra, Secretary General of the National Federation of Taxi Drivers told The Bubble in an interview. “We won’t remain idle while Uber laughs at taxi drivers.”
The Bubble spoke to Ibarra to find out how the union was planning to continue its fight against Uber. And it turns out the taxi drivers will be going personal, supporting a criminal complaint against Judge Alberto Zelaya for his ruling that effectively decriminalized Uber. The taxi drivers threw their support behind an NGO called Foundation for Peace and Climate Change that filed the complaint against the judge — if you’re wondering what the hell that name has to do with taxi drivers, that makes two of us — this week, accusing him of “violating the duties of a public official, abuse of power and cover up” due to his ruling.
— José Ibarra (@joseibarra_AR) October 24, 2016
Despite the numerous street blockades and other controversial actions — some of them violent — carried out by taxi drivers, Ibarra still thinks that “people are going to take our side because the taxi is a symbol of the City” and Uber is just a “passing trend.”
“People at first thought that if they ordered an Uber a flying saucer would come, but it is actually a car just like all the others,” he said. “But Uber is actually scamming people because they have no type of insurance or coverage whatsoever.”
The union has long insisted the key issue is insurance for passengers. “We provide safety to our passengers. Uber will never have insurance for them. We pay between AR $3,000 and AR $5,000 per month for it,” he added in an earlier interview to La Once Diez radio.
Ibarra also believes the upcoming app Taxi BA, which was approved by the City legislature in September, will tip the scales. “When they said we had been left behind and we didn’t adapt to the new technological eras because we didn’t have an app like Uber, we began a project to get one of our own and proved we can adapt,” said Ibarra. Much like Uber, the app that is set to be released in November will allow users to pay for the service with their credit card and know the identity of the driver before he or she arrives.
The judicial ruling that favored Uber was made public a month after 13 simultaneous raids were carried out by police in Uber’s main offices in the City and the homes of four managers and eight drivers. Uber, however, didn’t seem to be very impressed by the tactics and released a statement directed at its drivers assuring them the company would “stick by them” and would “always stand firm in our commitment to offer a new transportation option, as well as an income opportunity to our associates.”
More recently, Uber celebrated the judicial ruling in its favor, calling it “an important step toward the implementation of innovative and collaborative transport in Argentina.”