Miami-Dade County

Miami business travelers abandon taxis for Uber

Taxis wait in a holding area at Miami International Airport, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015.
Taxis wait in a holding area at Miami International Airport, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015. AP

Given the chance, Miami’s business travelers couldn’t wait to abandon taxis for Uber.

New data from Certify, a company that manages corporate expense accounts, amplify a trend already apparent at Miami International Airport, hotels and throughout Miami-Dade since the ride-hailing giant moved into the county in 2014.

At the end of that year, taxis accounted for 83 percent of expense-account transactions for transportation in the Miami area and Uber just 17 percent , according to Certify.

By the end of 2016, just 27 percent of the transactions went to taxis, compared to 67 percent for Uber. Lyft, Uber’s smaller competitor, held 6 percent of the transactions, making it a distant rival to the taxi industry, as well.

With its cellphone-only booking system and cheaper rates, Uber has swamped the taxi industry in large cities across the country. Miami-Dade rewrote its taxi laws last year to legalize Uber and Lyft, agreeing not to require that drivers register with the county and not to regulate fares the way taxis must adhere to caps on prices. Though illegal, Uber’s service was already wildly popular: The county reported 2,100 cab permits at the time Uber said it had about 10,000 drivers on the road.

Cabbies protest against Uber's continuing presence in Dade County outside the Miami-Dade commission meeting. Diego Feliciano, president of the South Florida Taxicab Association, Inc., describes cab driver's feelings. Video by Walter Michot / Miami

Uber’s surge in popularity also comes as investors continue to subsidize massive losses at the San Francisco-based company. Bloomberg reported in January that Uber lost more than $2 billion during the first nine months of 2016.

The new Certify numbers come as Uber faces political controversy related to the ongoing fight over President Donald Trump’s ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

When New York’s taxi union protested the Jan. 25 order by calling a work stoppage at JFK airport, Uber announced it would suspend “surge” pricing there and charge standard fares. Critics accused the company of undermining a Trump protest and launched a #deleteUber campaign to have customers remove Uber’s app from their phones.

Uber denied helping Trump, calling his order “wrong and unjust.”

Fourth-year neurology resident, Anjali Ramkissoon, is on administrative leave after hitting and screaming profanities at an Uber driver in the Brickell area.