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Uber, the international "ride share" service is gearing up in Panama City. My wife just used it for the first time a couple days ago and got this response:

"We'd love for you to help us spread the word about Uber! Below is your custom Uber invite code. Each friend that signs up with your code will receive $15 off their first Uber ride. For each person you refer that takes a ride, we'll add $15 in Uber credit to your account. It's the ultimate Uber win-win, and there's no limit to how much credit you can earn."

Bottom line: use the code below and you get $15 off your Uber ride.

  GIVE UBER, GET UBER  
   
SHARE TWEET EMAIL
  YOUR PROMO CODE  
louisea736ue

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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 passengers between airports. This will cut into their business further. Those of us who already have a preferred driver--one we know, trust, and count on--likely will not change, however, in favor of an unknown.

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I always like to have choice but I am skeptical that Panama will accept Uber in the long run.    I understand why Uber is such a great success in the US but Panama is very different.    In a place where taxis do not use meters and where getting a taxi is not difficult, I wonder how Uber could have enough appeal to make an impact.   Taxi rates are very low, generally most places around the city for $5 or less.   Maybe they will have an appeal for transportation to and from the airport but again I for one am skeptical.

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I think Uber may be good for both drivers and consumers. My wife used Uber because it seems all the taxis at the Albrook taxi stand want $15 to go anywhere. People who are not native to Panama City and don't know the ropes will turn to Uber rather than fight over fares with taxi drivers.

On the other hand the fact that taxis are readily available in PCity implies that there is a surplus and lots of competition. I can see a driver signing up with Uber to keep busy all day long rather than wasting time and fuel cruising around looking for fares.

On the security side there's been lots of publicity about people being hijacked and robbed by taxi drivers. Unlikely to happen with Uber since there's an electronic record of everything and the driver could be easily apprehended.

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7 hours ago, Bonnie said:

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 passengers between airports. This will cut into their business further. Those of us who already have a preferred driver--one we know, trust, and count on--likely will not change, however, in favor of an unknown.

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According to what I have witnessed UBER is gaining popularity each day that pass in Panama City.  Why?  Well because some people feel better and secure using this service.

The Taxi Union has tried to make the government to declare the service illegal.  To declare Uber as an unfair competition.  But Uber in Panama have good lawyers and the say that they are not a service of transportation.  They are a communication service where independent drivers can meet users needing transportation.  Until today nothing has happened.  The number of drivers is increasing and people are using it.

Because of the rigid and harder laws on DUI in Panama the service has become very popular in the weekends.   People go to parties, clubs, bars, discotheques, etc and drink as much as they want without worrying to drive back home in such condition with the danger of being involved in a car accident or being fined because driving drunk.

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In Panama there is another Smartphone app for getting transportation.  It is called EASY TAXY.  I used the app in Panama and it worked for me when I travel to Medellin, Colombia a couple of years ago.

 It still growing and they are promoting the service among the yellow taxi drivers so there are not much taxis using this app.  The driver should register at Easy Taxi and pass an screening test.  You dont need to give Easy Taxi your credit card information.  You pay cash to the driver.  The rates are the same.  Probably 75 cents additionally because of the service to pick up you.

I have used it a couple of times in PC but still is not so popular that very few taxi drivers are affiliated to the service and it takes time to get a free taxi to give you the service.   So it is free.  Download the app and give it a try.

 

http://www.easytaxi.com/

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Hum uber has actually been in Panama City since the end of 2014, so they are pretty well geared up. The cars all must be 4 door cars and newer than 2006, many are nice suv's.  The prices are much lower than the gingo rate charged by taxi drivers, more close to the rate charged for locals.  No cash changes hands, uber debits your credit card and and sends the money to the driver at the end of the week.  Uber does state that you don't tip, however I always tip and the drivers are very happy about that, so please tip them well!.  Average wait time is from 5 to 10 min sometimes just a couple of minutes. Uber charges a flat pick up fee then a fee based on mileage driven and time it takes to drive.  My daughter has been using them since Jan 2015.   Most uber drivers do not speak English  it since you have to have a cell phone to get them you then have a map to show where you want to go.

Uber in the states is terrific since I don't have insurance in the USA and don't have a insured credit card it is cheaper and much better to use uber.  For example in Orlando we went to universal studio city walk one evening, cost $20 to park took 1/2 hour to find a space 20 min to walk to city walk from parking and then took an hour to get out of the parking lot.  Next night took uber dropped us off at the entrance, cost $5 plus $2 tip picked us up when we were done with only a 3 min wait same cost back. Can would have been $20 set by parking rate not distance. 

Uber to the airport, in Orlando  cost $15 for 2, via shuttle cost is $32 a person or via cab cost is $40 to $60 depending on you negotiating skills. This is in Orlando not here. .

Please use my uber code to get $15 credit on your first trip and you can take $15 off the next cement art class or paper making class I offer :-) download the app and enter my code below.  Thanks.   You will love uber.

christopherm9123ue

 

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Thanx to Bajareque for starting this thread, and all of the replies.

This has been an interesting and somewhat emotional reading for me. I hear about Uber (not Easy Taxy until now) and have always dismissed it because I live in Boquete. I also did not have Internet access (other than WiFi for use where it is available) on my iPhone until this week. The 'emotional' part of this is that I really don't like being gringo'd, and it happens a lot, especially in PC. My Spanish has gotten better, and so I have made it policy to always tell a prospective taxi driver where I want to go and ask how much before getting into a taxi. I frequently find the driver's response when I decline a ride to be a downgrade to a much more reasonable price (possibly still higher than the locals' price, but acceptable to me).

Now that I have Internet access on my cell phone, I think I will give this a trial run during our next trip to PC. Even though we typically drive to PC, I detest driving there, and so the car remains parked at our hotel, and we use taxis (except for our run to Riba Smith to load up on the things not available in Chiriqui).

Following Bonnie's thoughts on this subject, I add that we have a taxi driver (now a very good friend) in PC who has never failed us. We always use José (no, not José Saenz for the long timers here) when timing is critical, or we need translation assistance, or we need someone who knows where things are and how things work. I will ask José about his thoughts re Uber.

Just curious if Uber works in Boquete? I don't plan to try it here in Boquete myself because we typically drive ourselves, and for the few times we use a taxi here we have another good [taxi-driver] friend, Bernardo, who we always call on.

Again, thank you for this thread. I soon will learn what the Uber code and the $15 credit is all about.

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I took Uber again on my return from PC.  Summoned them via internet while checking out of a Balboa Ave Hotel and the driver was waiting at the door.  Clean, cool, fresh smelling Prius (no "pine freshener") and a smiling driver.  Took me to Allbrook with a stop en route to pick up a kitty treat at the wonderful American pet shop at Allbrook strip, all in the cost was $3.43.   

Of course many of us have drivers for multiple stops, important missions, all day sightseeing with guests etc.  But at $35 a pop for a private driver, there's no question that I will use Uber whenever I have internet access to summon them. 

My only complaint was that I didn't know how much the stop would cost me because the drivers don't know themselves; but then, we do know that it's metered, and I was told to expect about $1 more than a standard cab who actually uses the government stipulated rate. 

If taxi drivers are not happy and are losing work, well, they have made their own bed by gouging those they assume to be tourists, stopping to pick up additional fares (who may in fact be accomplices) and refusing fares which is also supposed to be illegal.  I wish we had Uber in Boquete for those of us who are dependent on cabs and get gouged for being gringos. 

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17 hours ago, Luise said:

.... and get gouged for being gringos. 

 

For those of you who has many years living in Panama it is a task you can do easily.  If you know the language you can talk (defend) with the driver and ask for normal rates and prices.   In Panama is not a bad thing to bargain and ask for discount and better prices.

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Update on Uber:

We called Uber from Tocumen for a ride to Costa del Este: $27.

The car was there immediately and we had no trouble finding him. The driver told us that Uber has 3,000 drivers now in Panama City.

He said you could even call an Uber from the airport and get a ride all the way to Boquete ;) No idea how much that would cost!

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$27 for that ride seems expensive to me.

Costa del Este is not all that far from Tocumen.

Edited by Keith Woolford

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13 hours ago, Keith Woolford said:

$27 for that ride seems expensive to me.

Costa del Este is not all that far from Tocumen.

Yes.  It is expensier than using a regular taxi service, but as I wrote before Uber service has a rate a little bit higher than any taxi service.

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Uber’s cash payment option

Posted on August 4, 2016 in Panama

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FROM FRIDAY August 5, Panama’s Uber  customers will have the choice  of paying with cash or credit card.

The  update to the system will be introduced  because “many users do not have access to a credit card or debit card and, therefore, wish to have other payment options,” says a  statement from the company

The cash  option will be done through a pilot program from  Uber users who have been chosen randomly, the company said.

“All they have to do is change their  payment method from the application.”

Within the Uber app the user must go to the option of ‘pay’, on the  menu, then choose the ‘cash’ option and finally ask for the shuttle service.

Once the user reaches the destination the amount shown on the app is shown to the driver.

According to the company, all security features will be present before, during and after each trip, including the option to share the journey and qualify the driver and leave comments about the trip.

Uber, founded in 2009 in San Francisco, is a technology company that has a presence in 491 cities in over 70 countries.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/ubers-cash-payment-option

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Uber cash ploy riles users, taxis

Posted on August 5, 2016 in Panama

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Taxis stall rush hour traffic
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UBER’S  move to allow Panama passengers to pay cash has aroused a fresh storm of controversy  including drivers of the yellow hornets, sometimes referred to as taxis, and current Uber users.

The predictable outcry from the taxi owners is because they see the cash option as another major incursion into their fare base, which consists largely of lower income groups, now targeted by Uber because many of them do not possess debit or credit cards, but do possess a cell phone.

The outcry on social media and via call-in programs on radio and TV, is from current users of the service who complain that allowing Uber drivers to accept cash converts them to the level of pirate taxis, making them and passengers vulnerable to assault and robbery.

Meanwhile the Transit Authority (ATTT) announced an investigation into the legality of Uber drivers ccepting cash

Protesting taxi drivers blocked roads in several locations on Friday, August 5.

The carrier leader Rafael Reyes said that that President Juan Carlos Varela said that Uber would  not affect the selective transport of the country, but is doing so more now with the cash payment option.
“We reject this illegal platform,” said Reyes, who requested a formal statement by the Transit Authority and Land Transportation (ATTT) on the new form of payment,
Ulysses Calvo, legal director of the ATTT, explained that theUber  business decision to accept cash Uber will be incorporated as another factor in the file that  it keeps open..

This update to the system is done because “many users do not have access to a credit card or debit card and, , wish to have other payment options,” said an  Uber  statement.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/uber-cash-ploy-riles-users-taxis

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The intended security of riding in a licensed Taxi with an I.D. number and insurance is lost the moment a passenger gets into an unmarked car.

Although a lot of people complain about Taxi service in Panama, I'm not sure Uber is the answer.

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Apparently the President doesn't think much of the 'cash fare' idea either, and I seem to recall that Uber would never have received approval to operate without his blessing.

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President Varela: it is an error of Uber to charge cash

El presidente criticó la medida anunciada por la empresa.

The President of the Republic, Juan Carlos Varela criticized the decision of Uber to charge in cash since he considers that in this way they will be competing directly with Taxi drivers to perform a similar service.

"This is an error on the part of the company to open the measure because it supposedly [Uber] is a service that is given through an app, with credit card. (This) was not a direct competition to taxis but in the way they are acting, if I feel that the government is going to evaluate (the situation)," said the President in a meeting with journalists.

"We need to see other settle for as regulates [the company]. We cannot go against the technology. We allow the operation of this system because young people use it a lot. It is part of a modern city as Panama. But if they enter into competition with operators of taxis cashing out and relaxing rules with which they operate, we will have to regulate that," he continued.

In the morning today, taxi drivers of five piqueras protested in different parts of the capital city due to the company's decision to implement from this Friday, as a pilot test, the payment in cash.

Meanwhile, Ulises Calvo, legal director of the The Land Transit and Transportation authority (ATTT), indicated ar5 a commercial decision to cash of Uber will be incorporated as another factor within the dossier that he is kept open to the company in ATTT. This legal process is the one that is still the company to determine if the service it provides is legal or not in Panama.

http://www.prensa.com/judiciales/Presidente-Varela-Uber-cobrar-efectivo_0_4545295440.html

 

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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.  The taxi's unions and their lawyers were having some difficult time to get a case in order to cancel the Uber service in Panama.  In some aspects they were not a very direct competition to the actual taxi service.  Only a small percentage of Panama's population has credit cards and it made the Uber service a prime service for an specific market segment.  Now with this idea of accepting payment in cash and lowering the rates and tariff puts Uber in the same level as the taxis and it will go directly against the actual legislation of public transportation.

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Uber cash option distorts service –Varela

Posted on August 6, 2016 in Panama

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Taxi drivers protest Uber cash move
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PRESIDENT Juan Carlos Varela has come down on the side of social media and taxi owning critics of the move by Uber to allow passengers to pay cash for the service.

Varela considered it a ‘mistake’ because it distorts the system for which it was created. “Supposedly, is  is a service offered through an application to people with credit cards,  “said the president.

According to the president, with cash payment , Uber competes directly with taxis.

In previous statements, Varela had been in favor of the system and considered that did not compete with the local selective transport service, reports La Prensa..

Since Friday, Uber users   in Panama and Bogota can pay cash, a measure that has already been implemented in 60 countries where the platform connects users and drivers through a computer app

Also in Bogota, Colombia, Uber users can pay cash from Friday.

The company, in  a statement, said it remains open to dialogue with the authorities to achieve an innovative regulation that allows the existence of collaborative platforms in an appropriate legal framework for the benefit of Panamanians.

“Our main goal is to provide the opportunity for all citizens to mobilize safely and reliably, without distinction,” reads the document. Uber said the move to cash is because many users do not have access to a credit card or debit card and want to have other payment options.

Meanwhile taxi drivers consider the move illegal and continue  selectively blocking thoroughfare’s in protest.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/uber-cash-option-distorts-service-varela

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Uber’s future rests with ATTT

Posted on August 31, 2016 in Panama

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Taxi drivers protest Uber cash move

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THE FUTURE of Uber  in Panama is in the hands of the Transit  Authority,( ATTT)  after complaints filed by the city’s taxi drivers.

Rubén Chávez Deputy director of the Authority said Tuesday August 30  that the agency will review the response submitted by Uber in response to the  taxi drivers complaint through the National Chamber of Transport.

Chávez said the ATTT is reviewing the service provided by Uber, which has been sued by taxi drivers who argue that the company provides an illegal service. The complaint against Uber was filed Aug. 17.

Illegality claim

The taxi drivers and owners claim that  Uber is illegally collecting fares by both credit cards and cash

Quote

Panama Uber Manager Juan Pablo Restrepo said that the service the company offers is through a platform that is different than the ones covered by the law of selective transport.

Restrepo insists that the service should be regulated by laws regulating private transport.

That law, passed in 1956, covers services such as chauffeurs.

Uber authorities also appeared before the National Assembly Transportation Committee on Wednesday.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/ubers-future-rests-attt

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Where Uber spells jail time

Posted on September 11, 2016 in Panama

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THE LEADERS of Panama taxi drivers engaged in a turf war with Uber, have gained encouragement from events in Argentina where traditional drivers have gained the government’s ear.

In Panama Uber has thrown down  a new gauntlet to the yellow hornets by accepting cash from those without access to a credit card.

Taxi drivers who rely on lower paid workers for much of their income see the latest move as a serious threat.

Meanwhile,  in  Buenos Aires Public Ministry officials conducted 13 raids on Thursday September 8  on  offices and homes of Uber managers and drivers.

The city prosecutor accused them of violating an order to close down operations in April.

Buenos Aires public prosecutors are  expected to request that the eight involved receive 10 days in prison, according to La Nación.

The charges are for working without the permits required by Buenos Aires to provide public transport. In Panama, taxi drivers have likened Uber operators  to pirates.

Detectives from the Metropolitan Police and the Judicial Investigation Corps of Buenos Aires prosecution reportedly raided an office in downtown Buenos Aires where the firm Uber Argentina SRL works.

They also they raided the homes of two executives who were in charge of Uber in Argentina until last June and the homes of two current managers.

“The goal was to collect evidence that would correctly identify the perpetrators in order to end the violation,” judicial sources told La Nación.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/uber-spells-jail-time

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New anti-Uber protest by taxi drivers

taxis-uber b.gif

DOZENS of taxi drivers began a “day of action” against Uber on  Wednesday, March 22, with a caravan of protesters driving from Avenida Balboa to Plaza Cinco de Mayo  to block  Ave de Matires, causing widespread traffic jams.

The t xistas leader, Rafael Reyes, said that was  the beginning of a day of protests, to defend the source of their daily sustenance.

Reyes said  that taxi drivers have professional licenses, and insurance, certification of operations, unlike Uber.

“There is no respect for legal certainty in the country,” he complained.

 

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

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