Cabbies upset at ride-sharing app’s low fares
Marsha (not her real name), a cab driver of 20 years, says that she is seriously contemplating continuing in the business, as public passenger vehicle (PPV) operators like her continue to suffer devastating losses to inDrive, the newest ride-sharing app that has been dominating the market.
"Dem a price wi out a di business. Right now, if mi get 10 work fi di day that is good," exclaimed the experienced cabbie.
"Yuh can hardly get work a night-time because of how things set right now," added Marsha, during THE WEEKEND STAR probe.
InDrive, which began its operation locally last March, gives its customers a unique option to determine the price of each commissioned work. For their part, drivers also have the luxury of declining or negotiating.
But the fluid nature for which the business posits itself with customers has become a nuisance for Marsha and several of her peers.
"For example, yuh know how long chartered taxi stop tek $300 work? Years now, and more while a that people a pay over three kilometres of work. That cannot be good for us, because a it di public a gravitate to nowadays," Marsha bemoaned.
She shared that since January her workload has decreased significantly, especially at nights when she would normally make a decent return from her endeavours.
"See all weekend nights, work hardly come in from off the radio, a just di loyal customers dem yuh haffi depend on," highlighted Marsha, who has been working with On-Time Taxi Service for over a decade.
Her gripe was echoed by her colleague, Mark Anthony.
"All yuh need is Wi-Fi or data on yuh phone. So that helps a lot, because a nuff time people a road say dem cannot bother to call base. But outside a that, when wi a charge $800 or so from downtown to New Kingston, a $300 and $400 people a spend wid dem. Yuh have instances weh man a collect $1,000 fi airport work, and a madness that," he opined.
Anthony said that the situation requires intervention from the regulatory body.
"Mi have insurance a pay, dis and dat a pay, and nah see back the money. Might as well mi buy a small car and go sign up, because mi cyah continue like this. The authorities fi step in and address the issue," he urged.
However, Transport Authority's Corporate Communications Manager, Merdina Callum, told THE WEEKEND STAR in an email response that there was little the regulatory body could do in relation to the situation unless certain regulations are breached.
"InDrive is not a registered taxi company and/or route taxi association. It is a ride-share app that offers service similar to other companies that offer the service in Jamaica. Hence, the Authority has no jurisdiction over its operations, but reiterates that all lessees of ride-share companies transporting passengers for hire must be holders of a public passenger vehicle road licence. The Authority can only regulate overcharging and not undercharging," she said.
When contacted for a comment on the matter, Keyana Mitchell, inDrive's driver recruitment coordinator locally, said that the company will maintain its operational structure as it allows them to have an edge over other competitors in the market.
"It (inDrive) is not a taxi service, that is number one. Two, the edge that we have over competitors is that passengers have the option to offer their rate. So it is not inDrive saying, 'Hey, take this $300 to the driver, or whatever.' Passengers have the chance to offer what they are willing to pay for a particular ride. The drivers can accept or reject that ride based on what the passenger puts, or they may reach out to that passenger and renegotiate a charge or price for that ride," Mitchell said.
She was, however, coy in her response to the question about the criteria for drivers to sign up with the company.
"All I can say is that there is a process," she noted. "We require certain documentations from them."