Taxi hailing app Uber will see its drivers needing permits to work in Mexico City according to draft reports of legislation leaked to local media. The proposal would also force the company itself to pay into a transport fund, the first such regulatory crackdown for the company in Latin America.
The proposal would also ban Uber, as well as similar companies, from taking cash payments from customers, using taxi stands or offering prepaid plans.
The cost to Uber for each vehicle licensed would be about $100 per year, with 1.5 percent of revenue generated within Mexico being given to a city transport fund under the proposed plan.
While negotiations over the plan are still ongoing, officials close to the transport ministry said the full proposal should be made public next week.
Uber Mexico spokeswoman Ana Paula Blanco said the company is happy to pay some costs if the result is playing on a "level field" with local taxis. Mexico is a massive market for Uber and since its launch in 2013 it has gained about 300,000 users.
Taxi union leader Ruben Alcantara, who appears to have leaked the draft, claimed he was told Uber would have to pay between three and five percent of gross revenue into the transportation fund, well below the 1.5 percent leaked by city officials.
Mexico City has seen street protests against Uber by its more than 140,000 registered taxis, similar to those it recently garned in Paris when taxi drivers there rioted to stop the company's low cost UberPOP service.
Uber faces headwinds in Latin America as recently in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, and the capital Brasilia, lawmakers voted to ban the service after protests by taxi drivers. Sao Paulo even seized 23 unlicensed Uber vehicles last summer in response to continued opposition by taxi drivers.
In Bogota, Columbia, Uber drivers have been regularly attacked by regular taxi drivers. Colombia has declared Uber to be illegal and police have impounded vehicles offering Uber services.
Uber, which has taken an extremely aggressive approach to expansion, said it will continue to operate in both Brazil and Colombia because of strong public demand.