According to the State Department’s warning that tourists may face harassment and violence from local taxi unions if they choose to use Ubers instead of local taxis, Americans visiting Mexico’s Caribbean coast may be unsure of the safest method to get around.
In response to incidents in which taxi drivers “occasionally turned violent” towards Uber drivers and their customers, sometimes “resulting in injuries to U.S. citizens in some instances,” the U.S. State Department issued an alert for Quintana Roo on January 23. Quintana Roo is home to well-known tourist destinations like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.
Local taxi unions were upset by the arrival of Uber after it was given permission to operate in Mexico at the beginning of 2023.
On social media, there were videos of taxi drivers berating, circling, and attacking visitors. In order to get over taxi blockades at the airport, there were also pictures and videos of people being dragged into police pickups.
Jeff Lanno, the owner of Hola Weddings, a travel company based in the Riviera Maya, told USA TODAY that the taxistas are a very strong group in Mexico and that they won’t hesitate to use intimidation and/or protest to maintain their monopoly.
Ricardo Cruz, community manager for Hola Weddings, who is originally from south of Mexico City and now resides in Playa del Carmen, noted that Quintana Roo is generally a safe place to visit and go around as a local as well as a visitor. “I have visited big cities in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and I feel considerably safer here than in some areas of either New York or Istanbul. I believe that fundamental safety measures and common sense apply wherever you go.”
Is it more secure to use an Uber or a cab to navigate around Cancun?
Despite the fact that ridesharing services like Uber may be less expensive than taxis, their availability is limited, and they frequently stop at hotels and resorts (where taxis usually wait in front).
For the past few years, there have been intermittent problems with Ubers and taxis in Cancun, according to Matteo Luthi, Chief Product Officer of the Mexican travel agency Journey Mexico. Luthi has spent the last 12 years making Cancun his home. Nonetheless, Cancun’s government recently and formally authorised Uber, so we anticipate things to settle out within the next few months.
Lanno concurred. “At this time, I would most definitely not advocate taking an Uber in the region,” says one of our representatives who serves thousands of American passengers annually who fly into Cancun Airport.
He claimed that neither he nor any of his friends or coworkers had used an Uber in Cancun. Moreover, they are scarce. He claimed there was only one open on a Tuesday night throughout the entire Cancun hotel district.
There are further options. “A rental car can be worthwhile for folks who plan to move around a lot along the coast,” he said. “I would advise sticking with a transfer business, taxi service, or tour operator if you intend to stay in one place, visit a resort, and perhaps go out once or twice. cheaper and easier, without a doubt.”
How can you ride in a cab securely in Cancun?
If you need to go quickly and don’t want to rent a car, a taxi can be the best option.
If at all possible, Cruz advises taking a taxi from your hotel since “there is a sense of order and control.” This aids in finding lost goods and clearing up any misunderstandings that may have arisen throughout the drive, he added. At most tourist destinations, there are also taxi stops nearby.
The staff at Hola Weddings advised looking out for a few signs that a cab is authentic if you’re hailing one on the street.
All authorised cabs are painted a particular colour. Taxis are white with green lines in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. They are white with red lines at Cozumel, Tulum, and Playa Mujeres.
The union provides taxi drivers with an official uniform that consists of a white shirt with a green taxi syndicate insignia on the breast pocket.
An identification number is written on the side of each taxi.
Taxis must have two licence plates—one on the front and one on the back—per vehicle.
Ask for a rate card and settle on a price before getting into the vehicle. The majority of the time, drivers will try to overcharge you or simply refuse to transport you where you need to go because they believe it is too far, according to Cruz.
Expect the rate to be increased if you pay in USD rather than Pesos, he noted.
The rate card, which every taxi should carry, can be requested, but Lanno claimed that “it’s rumoured that some of them have alternate cards with higher rates on them.”