Chauffeured car services are uber-angering taxi drivers across Europe a little more each day, none more than the San Francisco-based ridesharing company with the online smartphone app Uber Pop.
A short ride in a big city with a non-regulation vehicle, three years driver experience and a clean record is hard to beat.
Taxi interests have increasingly been taking their competition complaints to court. Uber’s banned in Brussels. A judge ruled out some of its service for the whole of Germany, temporarily.
But cheaper travel for consumers is a strong argument, and with the company taking a share of what drivers earn, apps calculating fares over distances, and varying them related to peak or low demand, in more than 200 cities in 45 countries, it can afford to fight its cases in court, as it’s now valued above ten billion euros.
Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber General Manager for Western Europe, said: “Uber is shaking up an industry that has never really faced any form of competition, so I’m not too surprised to see those sort of tensions. How we overcome them is actually by doing what we do every day, for instance bringing safer, more efficient, more reliable options for people to move around.”
Although there have been Europe-wide taxi driver protests against Uber, the union in Italy — like a growing number of companies — struck back with their own trilingual app that lets people search for a ride for hire and book on their mobile phones.
Earlier this year, Uber was banned in Barcelona. Now Madrid is faced with the introduction of its offerings, which the taxi federation says is not just unfair but immoral and dangerous.
Its spokesman, Julio San Garcia, said: “We contribute professionalism and safety to the transport service. These entities just bring illegality, black economy and even a mafia.”
The taxi industry insists the ride services are breaking the law and should face the same regulations, say on minimum insurance, disabled access, all-neighbourhood service, pricing. Still, if you’re paying less, it’s a fresh car, and the driver is certified safe, competition might be welcome.