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Unlike my post of a year ago, I have become a Uber convert while travelling to Colombia.   I use a combination of Uber and taxis and find that both services have their advantages.   I like the security and comfort of Uber.   On the downside, I have had to help most Uber drivers to find the actual pickup and drop-off points whereas a taxi driver seems to have better knowledge of the city.   There are times when a taxi is quicker and there are times when getting a taxi seems impossible due to high demand.   It is worth the 5 minute wait to get the  Uber.

I now have a better understanding of what the attraction of Uber is to travelers.   What I saw as the cheap, easy, non-meter taxis can certainly leave a traveler wondering if they are getting a fair deal.   I suspect taxis are a better deal for the locals and Uber is a better deal for the tourist and travelers.

Personally, I do not find the argument that Uber is putting taxi drivers out of business or is greatly impacting their livelihood to be valid.   A taxi driver could certainly become an Uber driver.   It would seem that perhaps the real issue for a taxi driver is the loss of cash customers and the ability to bend the rules on fares.   I hate to see Uber accepting cash, even tho I have made cash payment to an Uber driver in the past.   The sense of security drops off if you start to deal with cash to the drivers and at some point you might as well take a cheaper taxi.

As for protest by blocking or slowing traffic on the streets - welcome to Panama.    Seems to me they do themselves more harm than good.   Take an Uber because the taxis are all busy protesting.   Competition is a good thing and we, the customers, win when there are options that provide better services to our current needs.   Find a way for both services to co-exist and let the public choose to fit their needs.

Thanks for the news update Bud.

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The things has to do with legal aspects contemplated in the Panama's legislation system.   It was easy to allow Uber to work when they were only a very personnel and exclusive transportation system.  

Maybe they can get on with business now. I've used UBER many times in Panama City. Great company for Panama. Never waited over 5 minutes for an Uber Taxi. Watched the taxi on the interactive map enrou

I'm actually sorry to see this. There are so many good "drivers" in PC who already have been affected by the Copa direct flights to Tocumen because a large part of their business was transferring pass

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I have a grand niece who drove for Uber while she was between jobs awhile back. It was a good way to learn some income and she enjoyed meeting most of the folks she transported.  Nena and I always take taxis since we have no problem negotiating the fare. When my sister came with us on her first trip to Panama, we had one driver for the whole day as we showed her the sights from the Causeway to Ancon Hill to Panama Viejo to Miraflores. The driver had lunch with us and we paid him 35 bucks.  Well worth it and it made it possible to see so much of the city in a short time.

Both services have their pluses if one can speak the language. By the end of the week my sister was bargaining fares.  We collect phone numbers of the drivers we like in the first couple of days and call them as we need them.

jim

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Taxi drivers protest Uber

uber-620x264.jpeg

PANAMA taxi  drivers were on city streets  in several locations on Saturday,  May  6, to protest unfair competition from Uber which now accepts cash payments from users.

Banner waving  protesters blocked traffic on  Calle 50 near Plaza New York and  in front of Multicentro shopping center and  on Via España, causing extensive traffic jams. Police were  on the scene.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/taxi-drivers-protest-uber

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There was a big protest in PC today against UBER by Taxis and Tourist transporters.

After a meeting with authorities, the Tourist transporters announced victoriously that UBER would no longer be able to pick up passengers in malls, hotels, tourist zones and airports and that the Transit Authority would be enforcing from Tuesday forward. This story was carried in the press until the Transit Authority issued a statement saying that the drivers' announcement was "completely false".

 

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Uber is just one of these "resource sharing" businesses that have come about with the wonders of technology.    Uber is ride sharing.   Another one is Airbnb, accommodation sharing.   In the same vein, they are a business model that uses the resources of the general public to provide service and they get around the employee-employer relationship thereby effectively being able to do business at a lower cost.   There are pros and cons to both sides of that equation. 

I expect in the future you will see some of the same protest and anger as more and more people decide to make a few dollars sharing their home as an Airbnb host.   Hotel and Hostels will feel the effect and will scream for regulation and enforcement.   Unfortunately, enforcement of either ride sharing or accommodation sharing becomes an insurmountable task in countries where the culture finds it acceptable to be a rule breaker.   Those providing the service are not employees of the company.  Attempting any rule or law enforcement then becomes the task of stopping every citizen who sees Uber or Airbnb as a way to supplement their income. 

One place where both of these companies have had great difficulty is in Japan.   Many have speculated on why Japan would be different than other countries when they put the same rules in place regarding those types of services.   Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that as a culture, in Japan it brings shame to be a rule breaker.    Both users of the service and those providing the service are seen as rule breakers and there for shameful.   I find that an interesting note just in terms of cultural differences, tho it does not provide any answers for countries like Panama.

In countries where rule breakers are seen as leaders, services such as Uber and Airbnb thrive.   I personally now use both extensively when travelling and enjoy both the independence and choice it allows me.   To those who see these services as hurting the people who have been entrenched in providing these services - it is time to up your game.   Give me a taxi that is always comfortable, clean, fair priced, air conditioned, etc, etc.   I will be glad to use it rather than waiting 5-10 minutes for my Uber to show up.    To the hotels, motels and the like, it is time to up your game too.   Give me many of the comforts I get from an Airbnb and I will be glad to use your service.   Getting charged for a minibar service, having towels that are so thin I can see through them, a bed that is...   well you get the picture.   I like the comfort of a home or a place that is kept as nice as a home without paying like I have money to burn.

Service.   Figure out what the customer wants and needs or else join the protest line to say life is not fair.    I find all sides of the latest "resource sharing" businesses to be interesting as societies evolve in how they provide service.

By the way Bud - nice job on this free "information sharing"  ̶ ̶b̶u̶s̶i̶n̶e̶s̶s̶ ̶ ̶  site.   As they say, sharing is caring!

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While the country sorts this out, I have often wondered about the claim that a taxi driver is a "professional driver" and therefore somehow better than the average driver (such as an Uber).   The humorous, yet somewhat true saying that "Every car accident involves at least one yellow car" makes me wonder what the real statistics are on auto accidents and taxi safety.  I doubt that statistic is available on taxi drivers vs the average public but it would be interesting to know given the position that some take saying Uber drivers are not professionals.

From my experience, there is a marked difference in the white tourist hotel taxis vs the average yellow street taxis.   They do cost more but provide air conditioning and are more likely to speak some English.   Hopefully, the country will find a way for all options to exist and give each of us the choice of service that fits our needs best.

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Ministry of Tourism awaiting ATTT to define the situation with UBER

Irma Rodríguez Reyes | 22 may 2017 07.10am

The Minister of Tourism, Gustavo Him, reacted this Monday about the conflict that has arisen between drivers of the Tourism Special Service (SET) and the UBER platform.

Him explained that the jurisdiction of the institution that leads up to the certification of tourist transportation, however recognizes that there is a problem which needs to be sorted out. "If ÜBER is legal or not, we are in communication with the Authority of Transit and Transportation on which is going to be the final judgment on this situation," said in Telemetro Reports.

The Minister of Tourism considered that in the midst of the differences, both nationals and tourists have been exposed. This, in relation to the video that's circulating in which an SET Tourism driver warns a tourist they cannot take an UBER car, because it is illegal. "The Constitution establishes the freedom of choice and that only impedes the passage of Panamanians and tourists," he lamented.

According to Him, although the platform ÜBER is regulated in a number of countries, in Panama there are no "clear" regulations on the new form of mobilization, so he's waiting for the decision of the ATTT.

http://www.telemetro.com/nacionales/Ministro-Turismo-ATTT-situacion-Uber_0_1028597299.html

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The government via the Transit Authority has still not come up with a decision on what to do about UBER.

Consequently, tourism drivers are out in force again today protesting. These licensed operators, guys like Luis Arce, are really being hurt.

Police are attempting to clear Avenida Balboa, which is currently blocked.

 

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In Colombia, I have found that the registered white "tourist" taxis also operate as Uber drivers at times.   In other words, they get the benefits of being an Uber driver when they are not busy and thereby service more people than just a regular Uber driver.   It would seem to me that if taxi drivers were allowed or would embrace doing both services they could come out a winner rather than trying to squash competition.  Of course you need to meet the requirements of both Uber and the local taxi laws.  Those beat-up, barely running taxis are out of luck.   

My experience has been that the white "tourist" taxis know the city better and have more experience, so I am happy when my Uber driver turns out to be one of these drivers.   Maybe Panama could encourage this while reducing some of the burdensome regulations.

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Transport authority proposes Uber-Taxi rules

taxi-no-voy-620x264.jpg 
First Spanish lesson: "No voy"

Transport authority proposes Uber-Taxi rules

FACED WITH ongoing protests from taxi-drivers and tourist operators Panama’Transport Authority (ATTT) has officially recognized the existence of “technological platforms”  that “must be regulated within the framework of a transportation law.”

In a lengthy statement, the ATTT said: “It is imperative to analyze whether the normative parameter that existed since 1993 is in line with the reality that we are experiencing today, and the legitimate demands of the users to receive an efficient and contemporary public transport service of passengers and that allows the Authority to possess greater tools to  guarantee a better service for citizens”

It  points out that “since mobility is a very dynamic activity, this Authority has repeatedly recognized and expressed to various public passenger transport organizations the importance of discussing strong modifications to existing transport laws or better still a new public transport law, that avoids future controversies that can emanate in response to the advance of  society.”

The resolution recommends to the relevant bodies that, “Within the possible regulation of the activity generated through technological platforms, consideration should be given to creating the conditions that allow the protection of the right to equality and the legitimate expectations of taxi drivers.

“The necessary regulation must be propitiated so that a monopoly in the activity is not created” the report concludes..

Interested parties have five days to appeal proposed regulations.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/transport-authority-proposes-uber-taxi-rules

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Decision coming on Uber’s future

uber-495x264.jpg

The taxi drivers have recently staged several protests against Uber, who arrived in Panama in March 2014. and has become very popular especially in the Panamanian capital. They call for the prohibition of this type of platform supposed unfair competition.

Varela, however, has refused to ban the platforms because, in his opinion, they are an alternative source of income for many Panamanians and do not represent any kind of competition for taxi drivers, as it is a “more exclusive” service.

But Varela   has criticized Uber for  allowing payment in cash and often reiterates that the problem that afflicts taxi drivers is not about the “app”, but with the oversupply and the excess of licenses that were issued during previous administrations.

Tuesday’s statements by Varela coincide with protests over new sanctions on pirate buses announced on Monday, reports TVN.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/decision-coming-ubers-future

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The Government has finally come up with some legislation regarding the UBER transport system.

The Executive Board regulates Transport Technology Platform - UBER
Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The drivers of the technology platforms of transport (UBER) must be over 21 years of age and licensed Type E1, issued by the transit authority (ATTT).

E1 type licenses are reserved for Panamanians and  drivers of this system shall submit their Police record.

According to the Executive Decree signed this afternoon by president Juan Carlos Varela, and the Minister of Government, Carlos Rubio, set a deadline of 6 months for the operators of these platforms to upgrade their systems to return to the electronic collection of fares. That is to say, it is a period of time to remove cash fares from their operations.

In addition, this is a luxury transport service offered through information and communication technologies (ICT).

Vehicles providing the service through ICTS must be in good condition, with convenience features, be registered in the list of approved vehicles of the technological platform, with a maximum of seven (7) years of age and have a maximum capacity of 7 passengers.

It is established that this service can be provided exclusively in the provinces of Panama City, Panama, Colon and Panama City, the subject of tourism promotion.

The luxury transport service ICT will not be able to provide directly on the street, or have a physical center where users request the service.

Complete information about the content of the Decree will be published in the Official Gazette.

https://www.presidencia.gob.pa/Noticias/Ejecutivo-reglamenta-plataforma-tecnologica-de-transporte

Edited by Keith Woolford
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I shake my head at two things...   

1. E1 type licenses are reserved for Panamanians
2. 
 ...this service can be provided exclusively in the provinces of Panama City, Panama, Colon and Panama City

I don't expect there will be a big outrage over those two stipulations but why have them?   So Uber and others cannot operate in Chiriqui?    And, there is a real danger that Non-Panamanians would be taking all of these jobs leaving the Panamanians without  work?

On the other hand, nice to see they are making progress on this issue.   Tourists and locals want and are demanding safer more reliable service.   They are having the same fight here in Colombia.   The middle of this month the taxis are planning a strike to protest these types of services.   We actually have multiple services similar to Uber.   In fact, many of the drivers actually drive for more than one services  thereby increasing their business. 

Glad to see Panama making progress.   I hope they open it up for Chiriqui and the rest of the country.

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Uber Service in Panama Restricted

The new regulation for the transport technology platform establishes that the service can be provided exclusively in the provinces of Panama Oeste, Panamá, Colón and Coclé. 

Wednesday, November 1, 201

From a statement issued by the Presidency of Panama:

Drivers working with transportation technology platforms must be over 21 years of age and have a Type E1 license, issued by the Transit and Land Transportation Authority (ATTT). 

Type E1 licenses are reserved for Panamanians and any drivers of this system must present a police record.

According to the Executive Decree signed this afternoon by President Juan Carlos Varela and the Minister of Government, Carlos Rubio, a period of 6 months is established for the operators of these platforms to adapt their systems to go back to collecting tickets electronically. That is to say, there is a period of time to eliminate cash payments. In addition, the luxury transport service offered through information and communications technologies, called (ICT), has been created. 

Read full release (in Spanish).

 

https://www.centralamericadata.com/en/narticle/main/Uber_Service_in_Panama_Restricted

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Maybe they can get on with business now. I've used UBER many times in Panama City. Great company for Panama. Never waited over 5 minutes for an Uber Taxi. Watched the taxi on the interactive map enroute to where ever I was waiting. Newer cars, clean cars, and pleasant drivers. And, never paid over $5 anywhere in the city. I didn't have to use it from Tocumen to Albrook. I think those days are over since Copa flies to David now(except the ones that refuse to fly Copa to David). I really like the auto billing to my credit card and now carry less cash. Maybe one day they'll think of Chiriqui----Especially David.

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6 hours ago, Hil said:

Maybe they can get on with business now. I've used UBER many times in Panama City. Great company for Panama. Never waited over 5 minutes for an Uber Taxi. Watched the taxi on the interactive map enroute to where ever I was waiting. Newer cars, clean cars, and pleasant drivers. And, never paid over $5 anywhere in the city. I didn't have to use it from Tocumen to Albrook. I think those days are over since Copa flies to David now(except the ones that refuse to fly Copa to David). I really like the auto billing to my credit card and now carry less cash. Maybe one day they'll think of Chiriqui----Especially David.

Totally agree. The auto billing is great. I also like that they send you via your phone, the drivers name, picture, what kind of car, the eta, and his cell number. We have used UBER throughout SA and CA and have always had great experiences. 

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Uber says that regulations for its operation in Panama “is not sustainable”

 
EFE Wed, 11/29/2017 - 09:57
 
image.thumb.png.38d1f3891ac433aa8aa6e7e4bbf6afe4.png
 

On Tuesday, the Uber platform stated that the regulations for its operation established by the Panamanian Government  “does not provide a sustainable alternative to meet the needs of citizens in the short, medium and long term” so it requested its revision.

That is the conclusion of a test carried out by the platform on November 24, during which it offered the service for several hours by applying Decree 331 published on October 31 and which will come into force in January next year, according to Uber.

Among the results of the test, Uber said that “the number of trips made in total was reduced by 96% compared to Friday, November 17, when the app worked under the conditions prior to the approval of Decree 331”.

"During the test time, only 3.8% of the driving partners could connect to the application due to the restrictions of the decree. Compared to the previous week, less than 5% of users could complete a trip," Uber said.

It added that “the average waiting time went from 5 to 15 minutes”, and that “despite the fact that the average user rate increased by 14%, the drivers who managed to connect earned on average 52% less per hour compared with last week because they spent more time looking for users who could travel”.

Moreover, users who pay in cash “may not continue to travel on the platform, as approved in Decree 331. This means 50% less of the trips that are currently made, which is a direct consequence of a low introduction of credit cards as well as the low banking level in the country,” it added.

“It is concerning that the entry into force of this Decree in January 2018 will negatively impact the more than 225,000 users and more than 8,000 driving partners, of which 63% are heads of families,” said Andrés Echandi, general manager of Uber Central America.

Echandi said it seems that it is “important for the platform to have a space in these days before the end of the year to review the points of the regulation, which not only affect Uber but also any local or foreign company that wants to incorporate technology to improve mobility”.

Decree 331 establishes that Uber drivers are required to be Panamanian citizens over 21 years of age with a special transportation license.

The Government gave these applications a six-month period to return exclusively to electronic toll collection and eliminate the cash payment option, which Uber launched a year ago.

The Government also created a new transport category, called luxury transport offered through information and communication technologies (ICT), which, among other restrictions, can only be offered in the Panamanian capital and the provinces of West Panama, Colón and Coclé.

The low quality of the service of traditional taxis and the arbitrariness with which the drivers determine fares, although the prices are regulated, have caused a boom of the mobile applications in Panama.

http://www.panamatoday.com/panama/uber-says-regulations-its-operation-panama-not-sustainable-5855
Edited by Keith Woolford
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1 hour ago, Keith Woolford said:

It is concerning that the entry into force of this Decree in January 2018 will negatively impact the more than 225,000 users and more than 8,000 driving partners, of which 63% are heads of families,” said Andrés Echandi, general manager of Uber Central America.

Did not know that. Wonder how accurate 8000 driving partners are? Let's say they work 3 shifts, that is 2000 or so cars and drivers for Uber on the street. Even 1000 is not right. That would mean you should get an Uber driver anywhere in the city limits to you in 10 seconds!

Edited by TwoSailors
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