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Mexico City taxis will soon welcome the addition of panic buttons in even more of their environmentally friendly models, with the first batch of 100 being rolled out just last week by the capital’s mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera. The Mexico City authorities hope these measures will reduce the significant pollution levels in the country’s largest city, as well as boost the safety and efficiency of their taxis.
Taxi-based crime remains rife throughout Mexico City, whether that includes the ever-terrifying prospect of an express kidnapping or just the potential for being ripped off and charged too much for your journey. Despite improvements in safety measures in recent years – and a reduced threat of express kidnapping – the arrival of Uber threatened the taxi industry and only now is the Mexican government taking action to compete, with the introduction of more stringent technology designed to protect consumers.
When pressed, the panic button alerts the authorities of your location and arranges for help to be sent if need be. One key downside of this scheme appears to be (ironically) the involvement of the authorities though, many of whom do not exactly inspire faith in many Mexico City residents.
As well as the panic buttons, these hybrid taxis will also feature WiFi and the drivers themselves will make use of tablets to charge the customer, who manages the journey through an app which gives access to fixed fares and streamlines the ordering process. Mexico City’s mayor claims that within 15 years, all taxis in the capital will have this panic button capability and hybrid technology.
If it all smells a bit like Uber, that’s because many of the ‘new’ ideas have come straight from the rideshare company’s playbook; e.g. tablets, WiFi, apps, panic buttons and hybrid or electric cars. Despite the introduction of Uber provoking both protests and outrage from Mexico City taxi drivers – as elsewhere in the world – upon its launch in the capital, it is now setting the standard for the industry here. Many at the time commented it was a clear sign that taxi drivers were afraid of losing business, and it seems that they’ve finally taken some hints from the company in order to compete.
While this isn’t the first time they’ve tried to introduce apps or boost the safety of taxis in the Mexican capital, it’s certainly the first time they’ve gone so high-tech in one fell swoop, and it will be interesting to see just how quickly and successfully the new system is rolled out.