Uber in Jamaica brings mixed emotions, from excitement among commuters to outrage from the Transport Authority and others. The extreme reactions prompted the government to raise the topic in Parliament a week after Uber said it had begun operations.
The issue seems to be legal. The TA regulates public transportation and says those offering such services need a road license. But the agency also recognizes Uber’s model is a new designation and may need some clarifications. Other interests in public transportation fear the loss of revenue and their costs to up their game and compete.
Uber explained its operations in a company statement that says their app will be a contractual portal for the lessor partner and user. It promises the leases will be insured and backed by Guardian Insurance, covering the lessor and lessee in case of accidents.
While the outcome is pending, the traveling public issued its verdict. In social media responses, most seem happy about Uber’s entry, especially its competitive prices. The public also welcomes Uber’s added safety because vehicles are tracked. Consumers are even happier with Uber’s multiple payment options. Users can use credit or debit cards, an attractive feature for ladies who would rather not travel with cash. Some are already celebrating their freedom from calling Bae too often!
Everyone expects Uber to bring a breath of fresh air to Jamaica’s public transportation. The chaos, crime, and crazy driving have not won the industry many friends. So more than a few people believe Uber will force other players to improve services to benefit consumers.
In many ways, Uber is emblematic of the disruption a global, digitized world promises. Technology is changing how we do everything, at work and at home. Industries are reinventing themselves, and we have little choice except to go with the flow. Perhaps if we embrace the changes Uber brings it will be easier to accept the kind of post-Covid-19 future Jamaica should expect.