Mexico City — Thousands of Mexico City taxi drivers rumbled through traffic in the mega-capital on Monday in a protest demanding that the government ban US ride-sharing service Uber.
In response, Uber retaliated by offering free taxi service “on such a complicated day to get around” in the metropolis of 20 million people and four million vehicles.
Taxi drivers on foot and many in their cars blocked the city’s main thoroughfares, painting windows with the words “Uber Out” and holding up signs reading “Criminals with License Plates”.
Protesters said the app-based taxi service cost them between 10 and 50 percent of their labor because Uber is exempt from some taxes and can offer cheaper prices.
“It’s totally illegal. Uber is a foreign company that comes to Mexico to get rich illegally,” said Marcelino Cadena, 40, owner of a taxi company.
Taxi drivers pay at least 6,000 pesos ($400) a year in taxes, license plates and other fees to the city government, in addition to a 16% tax if customers ask for receipts.
Ernesto Hernandez, 37, said his taxi rank received just 20 phone calls a day, down from 70 before Uber arrived in August 2013.
Uber has been hit with court injunctions in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Spain, and faced protests from taxi companies in many other major cities, including London and Brussels.