Hoping Uber finds its way to Cayman

| 09/08/2016

Can we get Uber or Lyft in Cayman? I recall there was once going to be meters in the taxis to avoid the embarrassing “one-sided discussion” on random taxi fares at the end of the ride – not sure whatever happened to that, but surely in an era of Uber, Cayman would be perfectly placed to use this technology to precisely determine the fare. Perhaps the introduction would enable a Uber pool where combined journeys would encourage people to share rides, lower travel costs, reduce the number of cars on the road, provide flexible employment to Caymanians, lessen the need for wider/more roads and also remove the temptation to drive drunk. Surely a win-win-win?

Auntie’s answer: You make a good case for introducing these transport options to Cayman. For anyone who has not heard of them, Uber and Lyft are ridesharing services, where the drivers, instead of being licensed taxi operators, are “regular” people using their own cars. The drivers are hired and paid through smartphone apps. I believe that Lyft may still only be available in the US where Uber is worldwide.

Before Cayman can embrace this service, however, there are regulatory hoops to jump through, which I am sure would not surprise anyone. A Ministry of Transport official addressed your question, explaining that anybody who wants to provide lift-for-hire/taxi services must apply to the Public Transport Board (PTB) for a permit. The rules to apply for a public-transport permit are set out in Sections 3 and 4 of the Traffic (Public Passenger Vehicles) Regulations (2014 Revision).

“It would then be up to the board to decide on the matter or to apply relevant criteria. At the moment the board only considers applications when there is demand for additional operators,” the official added.

As for your question about meters, the ministry representative said, “It is the goal of the PTB to have meters in taxis and they are working towards that; however, this would require legislation and funding would be required for the purchase and implementation of taxi meters.”

He did add that the Public Transport Unit is in the process of placing fare tables in every taxi, which seems to be a step in the right direction.

It does seem, however, that installing meters and bringing in Uber remain a ways down the road.

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Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (33)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Firstly, Uber actually has different levels of service. You can request a ride that may be shared, you can request a ride that is driven by a regular person, you can request a ride from a licensed taxi driver or there is a more upper class level that gives you more like a limo driver, i think it is called uber black.

    But as mentioned, none will ever come here, we can’t even get metered taxis or a standard that taxis have to follow. Just more of the same, a government board appoint by politicians. The board members probably have some interest in the taxis or buses or both, the politicians also, so they will just drag their feet on this. Every few years it will be brought up, they’ll commission a report, a report will be done, ignored and everyone will forget again, repeat. I would like to hope we can get some change with the next government, but my hope isn’t that high.

  2. Rod Barnett says:

    In city after city around the world there are stories about how established taxis drivers and companies are fighting UBER. Because the established taxi companies have a monopoly, they certainly don’t want any competition from clean, new cars driven by courteous drivers, while they continue to use broken down, non air conditioned vehicles driven by surely drivers.

    Of course not all taxi drivers are surely, or their vehicles falling apart, but there are still many like that. The competition of UBER ride sharing is a wild success where it is offered. Its easier for passengers to summon a car and pay via cellphone, and its safer for drivers to don’t worry about robberies and always get a fair, pre-agreed upon tip.

  3. Soldier Crab says:

    1. The whole taxi AND bus service is a racket; there are too many things wrong to list here.

    2. ‘Aunty’ how long have you been around? There was a proposal to compel taxis to have and use meters in the 70s; likewise fare tables used to be posted visibly in taxis. There’s nothing new about it.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Uber is super easy and app fantastic and I use it a lot off island, but fares can now be >2.5x normal fare during “surge pricing” or “peak useage” times – in Cayman these would be bar closing times, dinner time during high season, or during the active daily airport windows. If Cayman taxis had their own nation-specific app and payment system it could be much more transparent and eliminate the necessity to take and carry cash/change. I suspect the vehicle owners would also recover more of their car’s earnings for the day – esp the chronic violations of §6.”The driver of a taxi shall not carry any person as an additional passenger in his vehicle without the voluntary consent of the passenger he has already agreed to carry in the vehicle.” I am often paired by CIAA dispatch to three or more hotel fares heading more or less in my SMB direction – we all shoehorn in after a full day of travel with bags on laps and each paid full fare to our destination without consent and with an additional 20 minute milk-run. There needs to be a mechanism to report this abuse. It’s a joke, and a horrible experience for our arriving tourists. Cayman really needs to audit the entire arrivals and transportation experience for our tourist product. It’s genuinely third world. Why is the career CIAA dispatcher so surprised when planes land and taxis are needed?!? Same thing happens with cruise ship passengers.

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s amazing. I didnt know they were forcing passengers to share taxis, but still charge them the full fare. That is outrageous! What happens if someone were to refuse and quotes the section you mention. We should try it.

    • Anonymous says:

      This happened to me as well. I was next in line and refused to share AND pay full fare. I however did not have the support of others waiting in line and CIAA allowed others in line to move ahead. I had to end up calling for a taxi for pick-up at arrivals.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I gave a person a lift on Saturday and went 10 miles out my way just because I knew a taxi driver would rip him off. Maybe we should start an app that gives people a ride for free for a few months, make the taxi drivers feel some pain, don’t think there is anything illegal in that is there? then get the cartel to the table to discuss the Uber model, or at least putting meters in!!!

  6. Anonymous says:

    More people disobeying the laws. Yay. Just what we need.

  7. Anonymous says:

    There is demand for additional taxi drivers. Anyone ever call a company and get no answer, or be told ‘no cabs available at this time, sorry’. Anyone ever been told anything other than ‘we’ll get one over to you shortly, thanks for calling’? Cab users have been demanding better and cheaper for a very long time!

  8. Anonymous says:

    What a great idea. We should be a model free market economy and this would be the perfect example of that. It would give perfect flexibility to people who want to work when it suits them! Moving to meters in cabs is ridiculous, that’s an expensive step backwards…using technology with an agreed rate per mile/time on smartphone tech has to be the way forwards. Lets lead with this technology to improve our roads.
    As for driving the taxi drivers out of business, i’m sorry but this will massively increase demand for this type of service. The ease, security, timeliness and above all, certainty of pricing will encourage people to use public transport / Uber increasing the pot rather than reducing it.

    • Anonymous says:

      As an earlier reader mentioned, there is surge pricing for busy times which encourages drivers to work at those times….even more perfect. There are never any taxis late at night. If you have to pay extra (which is still going to be cheaper than the random, rip off pricing at the moment) to get more drivers on the road at those times- brilliant. That’s exactly how a free market should work. By allowing people to share rides will make this more price efficient and convenient- which surely is what the taxis should be for?
      We had an experience when a driver was taking 3 people to 3 different locations, who charged a separate fare of $15 for a lady from Fidel Murphys to Regal Beach. It was late and we didnt want her to walk…and it was on our way up West Bay road to Governors. I mean, what possible justification can the taxi industry have for this??
      Would be nice if someone in government acknowledged that this system simply isn’t working and pledged some reforms such as suggested by the initial reader here, which seems like a perfectly neat resoultion for our island. If only there were an election sometime soon, where this could be a novel manifesto item.

  9. Anonymous says:

    The west bay taxi cartel will never allow it

  10. Crab Claw says:

    As anyone asked how much an Uber driver really makes, I still can’t understand how someone can get into a car with an unknown person that has only been verified via an app, and call an organize Taxi system, backwards.

    • Anonymous says:

      US$3,000 to US$5,000 a month. The vetting is intensive. Try it.

      • Crab Claw says:

        There is no way it could be 3-5k a month when The companies own ads ask what could you do with and extra $300 a month.

        • Crab Claw says:

          Sorry, per week

          • Anonymous says:

            That is for people who already work full time and so are only driving for a few hours in their spare time – hence the reference to “extra” money i.e. on top of your existing income.

        • pproved? says:

          My son in law does over $100 for 5-6 hours.

  11. Anonymous says:

    A new level of policing would have to be introduced as all car insurance policies state that you cannot drive your vehicle for hire – would you want to have to ask for proof of insurance every time you use a Uber?

    • Anonymous says:

      Uber checks your insurance as part of being one of their drivers. It is a non issue.

  12. Cayguy says:

    ” uber everywhere ♪ ♫ ♬ ♭ ♮ ♯”. Taxi man would hang it up then . too many inconsistencies with cab fares here

    • Anonymous says:

      obviously there is a problem with taxis in cayman. many are charging very high rates. but bringing in uber will cause a lot of them to be without work while the owner of uber gets rich instead. is that what we want? better if a system is forced on them to all have meters to prove what they are charging.

      • Anonymous says:

        They can drive with Uber. No one will be unemployed as a result. In fact, many people will gain employment.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Not going to happen here. The taxi monopoly won’t be broken here.
    And I still prefer taxi to Uber simply because they drive for living each and every day therefore their driving skills are superior of Uber drivers.

    • Anonymous says:

      If you call holding people up on the bypass a superior driving skill then sure.
      Let’s not forget that Uber drivers are simply other drivers, who drive every day.

    • Anonymous says:

      Haha haha the crack team of specialised drivers we call Taxi Drivers.

      Skills include:
      Not wearing seatbelts
      Bald tires
      Enough fake chrome to blind anybody seeing them on a sunny day.

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe in the US or elsewhere. but here some (not ALL I stress) do not respect the road at all. Whether it be late unsignalled lane changes, stopping in the middle of the road or parking perpendicular to a handicap spot therefore blocking it (I have seen this MANY times at Camana Bay) there are some rather negatives tactics used. Not to say a regular civilian driver will be immune to such tactics, but I think it matters more on the person and not on their occupation.

    • Anonymous says:

      you have to be on the wind up here right? Superior driving skills, oh my days haha!!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Regulation 9:

    9. (1) The driver of a taxi shall not carry on any business of plying for hire
    or carrying passengers for hire or reward unless the taxi is fitted with a taximeter.

    Does that not mean that all taxi’s are operating contrary to the regulations?

    …and we call ourselves a country of laws.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hey Alden. Is that comment treasonous? It suggests we are incompetent or corrupt. Which is it? Our regulations do not really say that, do they? You would not let an entire industry operate unlawfully, would you?

    • Anonymous says:

      That regulation has not been…implemented yet. We are still ‘working’ on it and will…announce our plans in that regard… ‘shortly’.

  15. Diogenes says:

    The Board only considers applications when there is a demand for additional operators, but doesn’t say how that demand is determined. The existing operators are clearly not going to lobby for it, and why do you think that meters haven’t been introduced? Because the existing operators refused to pay for the meters and government wouldn’t force them to install them. If they wont do that the chances of CIG breaking the taxi oligopoly lobby by introducing Uber are square root of zero.

  16. Anonymous says:

    If anyone wants to be an Uber driver, they should apply for permission. If they are denied permission, they should appeal. The taxi monopoly has to be broken. A Board made up of Taxi drivers protecting Taxi drivers will not withstand legal challenge. They have had long enough to be responsible and ensure a high quality of service to our residents and business and tourist visitors, and they have failed to do so. Let them face some competition and let all Caymanians have the potential to not only benefit from the service, but also earn a few more dollars.