Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 19th 2017 Contents BG4 | COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN guardian.co.tt JANUARY 19 • 2017
Uber is here!
Uber, the high-tech trans-
portation company based in
the United States, launched
its long-awaited service in
T&T on Monday. This is the
first country in the Eng-
lish-speaking Caribbean where the innovative
service is available.
Julie Robinson-Centella, communications
associate for Central America and the Caribbe-
an, was quick to point out during her interview
with the Business Guardian that Uber is more
than a taxi service.
"We are not a taxi company. The drivers are
partners of the platform. Then we have the
users. There are no specific number of partners
that we will have ready to launch, as that will
be a number that changes daily. The reason
is that every day there are people who will be
going through screening to be incorporated
into the platform."
Robinson-Centella said Uber has been in
business for nine years and is present in 470
cities worldwide and in more than 70 coun-
tries. It is a technology company and the idea
started in 2009.
She explained: "Uber's founder Travis Ka-
lanick was not able to get a service from the
restaurant where he was to a hotel because it
was raining and he wondered why not have a
service where someone can click a button and
get a car to take you where you want to go. He
then went to San Francisco to start his idea.
At first it was only private cars for his friends
but knowing there was a demand he started
to expand the services.
"Our aim is to get our service everywhere
for everyone. That is why we keep on target-
ing everywhere, it does not matter how big or
small. At the end of the day, we want to change
people's lives providing a safe and reliable ser-
vice to everyone and everywhere and show you
the Uber magic behind moving people."
To access Uber, potential customers can go
to the App Store or to Google Play and down-
load the app.
"The same app that someone uses here in
Port-of-Spain will be the same app used in
Panama or England or the United States or
anywhere else," Robinson-Centella said.
"You need to put in your name, your email,
because at the end of every trip you will get
a receipt showing all the details like who was
your driver, the car you took and how much
you paid for the ride."
There is a base fare and a booking fee, then
there is a rate per kilometre and a rate per min-
ute which increases depending on how many
minutes are spent on the road.
It is easy to pay for the service. At the end
of each trip, the cost is automatically charged
to a credit card, debit card or could be paid in
cash. Uber sends a detailed receipt via e-mail.
If the user has an issue, he or she can request
help through the app, since Uber's technology
allows users to review every part of the trip.
The minimum fare is $32.50. The breakdown
includes a $20 base fare and $2.50 booking
fee. The cost per kilometre is $1.40 and the
cost per minute is $1.20. The app also allows
users to estimate the cost of their ride before
Robinson-Centella said Uber dealt with all
the regulatory bodies before entering the T&T
She said the first impact of Uber will be
customers at social events.
"People are liming, people who are going out
with their friends, drinking and they leave their
cars at home and so need our service. They are
the first ones who usually use our service in
every single country. After that, people realise
they can leave their cars at home and move
around, or if someone goes to their office and
there is no parking lot, then you can use Uber.
There are mothers who take their children to
school and other examples."
She said the service will be insured in case
of accidents: "We are doing a partnership with
Guardian General Insurance making sure that
all our rides are insured."
Robinson-Centella said Uber does not as yet
have an idea of when they will be expanding
"Firstly we have to know what are people's
needs before we expand," she said.
She said Uber has successfully managed to
change the way that people move.
"We want people to understand that we are
more of a technology company than a taxi com-
pany. Through the app a customer will know
who will pick them up, the car plate, then there
is the score where after the trip, the passenger
is scored and the driver is scored. That im-
proves customer service."
She said if people are unhappy with their
service they can simply use the app to register
"If the car was dirty, or the amount that was
charged was incorrect, or the person did not
like the smell of the car, Uber would know who
was the driver, where you were taken up and
There will be a location, Green Light, where
drivers can go if they have concerns. However
that location has not yet been finalised.
In a release hours after the official launch on
Monday, the Ministry of Works and Transport
cautioned citizens about their use of Uber as
it seeks legal advice to determine if the service
can continue to operate within T&T's legis-
The main concerns is whether private ve-
hicles can be used for hire.
"The Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act
provides that: no person shall drive on any road
a taxi registered as such unless he is the holder
of a taxi driver licence issued to him by the
licencing authority under these regulations,"
the minister said in a statement.
"In light of the above the public is asked to
exercise caution and due diligence."
On Tuesday, the Business Guardian emailed
Robinson-Centella for a response to the Min-
istry of Transport's media release but, up to
presstime, the communications associate
could not be reached.
For more information on Uber in T&T visit
http://www.ubertrini.com/ , https://newsroom.
uber.com/trinidad-and-tobago/ or Facebook @
...but questions arise over high-tech service
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