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In Mexico, A Motorized Rickshaw Challenge To Uber

Uber may have global ambitions, but the Mexican city of Guadalajara offers an example of how local resourcefulness can still hard to beat. By welding on extra features, including passenger seats, some Guadalajara entrepreneurs are turning electric rickshaws and scooters brought in from India and Italy into bike taxis that are giving Uber a run for its money.

Enhancing, or even assembling, ramshackle vehicles is nothing new in Mexico as anyone who has used a microbus in the capital will know. These buses and bike taxis, including many enhanced versions of the Italian scooter brand Piaggio, thrive in a country where millions can only afford cheap transport.

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A rickshaw in Oaxaca, Mexico (2010) — Photo: Antti T. Nissinen

One seller in Zapopan, a western suburb of Guadalajara, told El Informador that a remodeled rickshaw can earn you 300 pesos ($16.50) a day, which can recoup the initial investment in just six months. Each one costs around 64,000 pesos ($3,500).

This mode of transport is not tightly regulated, and requires little paperwork for now; and while many avoid them for safety fears, they are already making some 46,000 trips a day in and around the city of some 1.5 million, reports El Informador, which is based in Guadalajara.

A salesman in Tlajomulco south of the city toldthe paper: "It's simple. If you buy an Uber, the car costs 160,000 pesos ($8,800). You have to pay for the application and rent the car out. The (motorized rickshaws) require so much less in startup costs, are three times more profitable ...and carry almost twice as many people as Uber."

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Society

Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

Photo of a father with a son on his shoulders

Father and son in the streets of Madrid, Spain

Ignacio Pereyra*

-Essay-

When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

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