Uber has no permission to operate in Jamaica, Transport Authority insists

KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Transport Authority has confirmed with OBSERVER ONLINE that it has not given United States-based ride share company Uber any permission to operate in Jamaica.

This follows yesterday's announcement that Uber services are now available in the country. Jamaicans can now sign up to become drivers or request rides to get from one location within Kingston to another.

Read: Uber ride share now operating in Kingston

According to the company, to become an Uber driver, the person must be 21 years of age or older, have a 2001 or newer model year vehicle, and must a valid driver's license, vehicle registration, vehicle insurance and a profile picture to the company.

But the Authority said that while it encourages diversity and engagement of technological solutions in providing services, it is reiterating that any attempt to circumvent the provisions of the law will be taken as intent to operate illegally and not in the interest of good order or safety.

Unlike in the US where the service is referred to as a ride, Uber has labelled services in Jamaica as “rentals”.

In a statement from the Transport Authority today, it said it should be noted that the provision of public transportation services, irrespective of the terminology used, once deemed functionally as such, requires a road licence from the Authority.

The Authority said that Uber's “vehicle with driver lease agreement” is a new designation in the local public transportation landscape, and may not eliminate the need for the company to engage licenced public transportation operators to provide its ride sharing services locally.

Responding to calls from OBSERVER ONLINE, a representative from the Authority later confirmed that Uber has not been granted permission to operate in Jamaica.

The Authority noted that it previously met with the Uber team on two separate occasions, when it was approached by the company intending to provide ridesharing services, which it is internationally known to deliver. On both of these occasions, the Authority said it advised Uber that the Transport Authority is prepared to encourage Uber's operations in the market once done in accordance with local public transportation legislation, which requires the engagement of licenced public transportation operators to provide these services. 

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