Jamaica’s Transport Authority says Uber is operating illegally

Jamaica’s Transport Authority has confirmed that it has not given United States-based rideshare company Uber any permission to operate in the country. The agency made the disclosure to the Jamaica Observer.

This follows Tuesday’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. 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.

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

But a statement from the Transport Authority on Wednesday pointed out that the provision of public transportation services, irrespective of the terminology used, 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. But this may not eliminate the need for the company to engage licenced public transportation operators to provide its ride-sharing services locally.

The Authority said it met with the Uber team twice before they launched the service. And on both occasions, it advised Uber that it would encourage Uber’s operations in the market. However, it noted that this would only be done if Uber operates in accordance with local public transportation legislation, and this requires the engagement of licenced public transportation operators to provide these services.