This week the Uber France CEO and Uber's Western Europe General Manager were arrested in Paris. Both were charged with running an illegal taxi business.
Taxi drivers in France have been attacking Uber drivers, setting cars on fire and erecting barricades, because they are not happy about what they see as the unfair competition posed by UberPop, Uber’s European ridesharing service. According to a representative from the FTI taxi union, French taxi drivers have experienced between a 30 percent and 40 percent decline in revenue in the last two years.
It is alleged that UberPop is not required to comply with the burdensome regulations that govern taxis.
The Uber taxi dispute follows legal action in London by one of the biggest private cab firms, Addison Lee, which last year (unsuccessfully) challenged the bus lane rules. Addison Lee alleged that the rules which allow black taxi cabs but not private hire vehicles (i.e. minicabs) to drive in bus lanes, amounts to state aid. Its position is that using the bus lane is a benefit conferred via state resources which unlawfully distorts competition in favour of the black taxi cabs.
In a cab on Saturday night (order via Uber), I asked the driver whether he thought Uber should be banned in London as it is in many other major EU cities. His answer was that as a minicab driver, he hated Uber, but as a consumer, he would always use Uber. That, I think, provides the answer to the question about where the future lies.
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