Why It’s Hard to Downgrade from Uber to Taxis

Colombia taxis

by bogotastic · Uber cars have been in Colombia for quite some time now. I have been here for over a year and everyone has insisted that Uber cars were far better than the Bogota’s taxi drivers. Personally, I have ridden taxis since the day I arrived and have never bothered to download the Uber app.

I must admit that even though I came here knowing that catching a taxi in the streets of Bogota wasn’t the safest option, I still did it. For over the past year I have been riding ONLY with taxis and getting them in the street. As I had nothing to compare the service of taxi drivers in Bogota to, I didn’t find it horrible. I had never had a driver be rude to me except for the occasional taxi driver which refuses to take you to where you need to get. The driving seemed okay, and I didn’t feel ripped off.

I also had the misconception that Uber car fares were higher than taxi fares and I didn’t really feel like spending more.

So with that, I had no incentive to download the Uber app and change from taxi to Uber in Bogotá.

Despite hearing all sorts of stories of friends of friends who had experienced the Paseo de Millonario, the friend of a friend is not MY friend so I didn’t give it much importance and it didn’t really matter or scare me.

Then in one single week a few months ago, I had TWO friends tell me they had experienced the Paseo de Millonario, both around the same location in Zona T at night. Having two friends in the same week share their horror stories with taxi drivers in Bogotá quickly got to me and I promptly downloaded Uber.

So what is Uber?

Uber is a car sharing app that connects drivers with passengers.

All I knew about Uber is that their drivers rode in white cars around the city.

In reality this is only one type of Uber car service. There are several types of Uber cars you can ask for, but I usually go for the cheaper version called UberX. UberX is not the common white cars you see in the street but people’s private cars. You can get picked up in a small Honda just as you can get a pimped out SUV.

Uber rates

There is no cash transaction involved as you pay through credit card and are discounted immediately after your trip is done. Your Uber fares are based on starting minimum rates, plus the time and distance that it took to get you from point A to point B.

For me, Uber fares have always been cheaper than taxi fares, even during the weekday. I ALWAYS  pay more when I ride a taxi (even without recargos).

Uber cars use Waze (GPS Application)

You don’t have to worry about your driver taking the long way around or taking advantage of you not knowing the city as you can enter your starting point and final destination into the App and the Uber driver will use Waze to effectively calculate the fastest route.

So, what’s Uber like?

I like that my Uber drivers were not ñeros and that they were normal people like you and me. They asked me if I’d like a certain radio station turned on, have a bit of friendly chit chat and maximized my trip through Waze. I feel safer, I don’t check that the car doors are locked, or worry that someone is hiding in the front seat or in the trunk. And I’m sure I’m not getting ripped off.

Upon arrival, the driver tells the app that the ride is over and you receive a receipt straight to your email which automatically discounts the cost from your credit card along with a summary of your trip.

Downgrading sucks

The other day I had no internet connection and was forced to grab a taxi in the street. This was the first time after 3 months of having switched over to Uber that I took a taxi in Bogota.

Let me tell you that upgrading was easy but downgrading was hard. The taxi driver drove at high speeds, with annoying music and didn’t have enough change to give me. Sound familiar? As I got out I thought to myself, “NEVER again”.

Uber in Colombia has gotten a lot of heat from taxi drivers in Bogota as taxi drivers complain that Uber cars are stealing their business. I’m sorry to say this, but taxi drivers offer a service that isn’t hard to beat. So if you’re in town and you want a cheap ride that takes you to where you need to get with an optimized time and a low fare, forget taxis, go and download Uber.


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