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Europe's taxi drivers in Uber protest

2014-06-11 08:13

UNFARE COMPETITION: Taxi drivers across Eruope will protest today (June 11 2014) against what they say is 'unfair and illegal competition' from cellphone app-using services such as Uber. Image: Shutterstock

PARIS, France - Taxi drivers in European capital cities will protest today (June 11 2014) against what they see as unfair and illegal competition from cellphone app-using car services such as Uber which have shaken up the taxi industry.

Chaos is expected in key European cities as traditional cabbies - from London's black cabs to others in Rome, Paris, Berlin and Milan - protest against the growing number of unlicensed drivers and chauffeur services that are chipping away their client base.

California-based chauffeur-car company Uber is the main target of the drivers' ire but it is only one of many new smartphone-dependent car services that bypass strict regulations faced by licensed drivers.

'BLACK-CAR SERVICES'

Serge Metz, chief executive of France's Taxi G7, said: "Uber is deliberately not respecting regulations and on top of that has significant financial means."

The protest comes just days after Uber was valued at a whopping equivalent of R181.9-billion, one of the highest figures yet for a technology start-up.

The Uber app was launched in 2009 and allows people to connect directly with "black car" services, a thriving model which has seen it and similar companies surge across the globe.

France now has an estimated 10 000 vehicles and motorcycle taxis run by such non-traditional taxi firms. Drivers are only allowed to pick up passengers through prior reservation, not by hailing them in the street. Most notably, they don't have to shell out the equivalent of R3.4-million for the licence required of old-fashioned taxi owners.

WHAT'S HAPPENING...

Fury at the practice has seen taxi drivers stage several protests, choking major roads across France - a sight expected again today when a rail-workers' strike will compound traffic problems.

  • In France, taxi convoys will converge on the two main airports serving Paris - Charles de Gaulle and Orly - and slowly head into the city.
  • In Rome, taxi drivers will hold a "reverse strike" by charging only the equivalent of R14 per trip to fall in line with competitors' prices.
  • In Milan drivers will strike all day.
  • In Berlin and Hamburg, taxi convoys are expected to block traffic.

Uber, however, wasn't worried. In an email to subscribers - described as "a jaunty response" to the Parisian protest - it said it would halve its rates in that city.
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Read more on:    uber  |  france  |  paris  |  protest

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