New web-based taxi service lets you bargain on fare; Traditional taxi owners prepare to fight

Nov 27, 2018

If you like to barter in Ecuador’s markets, you’ll probably appreciate the newest entry into Ecuador’s taxi market. InDriver says it will soon join Uber and Cabify in the growing internet-based taxi market.

Users of InDriver bargain directly with drivers over the amount they will pay for fare and settle on a price before the driver makes the pick-up.

According to company officials, the negotiated prices are almost always lower than those offered by Uber, Cabify and traditional yellow cabs. “The difference is the commission that drivers pay us,” says Martín Linera, Ecuador manager for InDriver. “Our drivers pay five to eight percent of fares while drivers for Uber pay Cabify pay 25 percent. This difference provides the room to bargain for lower prices.”

Needless-to-say, Ecuador’s traditional taxi companies hate InDrivers as well as Uber and Cabify, and plan protests to stop it.

Traditional yellow cab drivers are threatening strikes to stop internet-based competition.

Established in 2011, InDriver currently operates in 142 cities in 10 countries and says it will officially launch its Ecuador service in early 2019.  Unofficially, Linera says, the company is already working in Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca.

“We are making an aggressive move into Latin America and plan to invest $50 million to establish operations and to publicize our services in the coming year,” she says. “Because of the culture of bargaining here, we think we are a good fit into the culture.”

As a special introductory incentive, InDrive will waive all driver commissions during the first six months of operation in Ecuador. “This will offer all customers very big savings on fares,” says Linera.

In addition to the three cities currently served, InDriver plans to operate in Santo Domingo, Machala, Manta, Portoviejo, Loja, Ambato, Esmeraldas, Quevedo, Riobamba, Milagro and Ibarra.

Ecuador taxi companies claim the government is not doing enough to crack down on what they consider illegal taxis. “We talk to the central government and city governments about this growing menace but they only provide lip service for support,” says Jorge Gomez, who represents taxi companies around the country. “If we do not get satisfaction soon to stop the illegal competition, we may be forced to paralyze roads in major cities.”

According to Cuenca Transit Director Daniel Cárdenas, InDriver, Uber and Cabify are not authorized to operate within the canton and says offenders can be fined as much as $722. As to complaints from authorized taxi owners that laws are not enforced, he said that is up to transit police.

Quito taxi drivers plan a strike on Wednesday, protesting a number of issues, including the rapid growth of internet-based taxi services.

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