Uber Launches One-Way Rides From San Diego to Mexico


Now you can cross the border with just a click on your smart phone.

More than 70,000 workers cross between San Diego and Tijuana each day, and the border is a bit of an obstacle.  Uber has just made it easier.  Using a special app on their smart-phone, clients can order a ride with just the click of a button.  

The “private taxi” service has already been offering service on both sides of the border, but passengers would have to get out, walk across the border, then call another Uber driver to take them the rest of the way.   They will still have to do that on the way coming from Mexico into the US, but the trip south will now be non-stop.

Uber has launched “Passport”, its first cross-border service, offering one-way transportation from San Diego across the San Ysidro border to anywhere in the northern Baja California region. Riders will need appropriate documentation, such as a passport for U.S. citizens.   They’ll pay a $20 border crossing fee for southbound trips and will have to choose Uber’s black car service instead of the cheaper UberX option.

The company estimates trips from downtown San Diego to Tijuana’s airport will cost about $100. Uber said it will provide insurance for cross-border rides and all drivers will be commercially licensed.

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“It’s very exciting for us because there are a lot of places where we could have launched a cross-border product, but we recognize the importance of the largest border crossing in the world and the unique relationship between San Diego and Tijuana,” said Christopher Ballard, general manager for Uber in Southern California. “These are cities whose families, cultures and economies are closely linked.”

City leaders are optimistic that Passport can strengthen the ties between San Diego and Tijuana, already considered sister cities.   “Our economies are linked. Our businesses are linked. Yet our infrastructure isn’t,” said Paola Avila, vice president of international business affairs for the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“We depend on a reliable workforce that can get to work every day,” she said. “This is an affordable option that increases efficiency and reduces commute time. And companies might look at including (Passport) as an employee benefit.”

There’s just one snag in the new “Passport” service with Uber – U.S. drivers themselves aren’t excited about it, and many say they will not be willing to take passengers across the border into Mexico, citing huge safety concerns and long border wait times.

Drivers also worried about their responsibility for riders carrying illegal substances across the border. They said the cost of international data plans could also be a deterrent. KPBS is not naming the drivers to protect their ability to earn an income through ridesharing.

But for Uber, and the local city leaders, the new border-crossing service will better link the “infrastructure” of the “sister cities” between two nations.

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