As of today, more than 30,000 taxi drivers across Europe are protesting the popular car-sharing service. From the cities of London to Madrid and Berlin to Paris, thousands of taxi and limo drivers gather to strike and protest against Uber claiming that the smartphone application “threatens their livelihood”.
Reasoning Behind the Anger
European drivers are angry that they are losing their jobs to drivers who don’t need special licenses to operate their transportation services. The Uber software allows customers to order a ride from drivers who don’t need licenses, which can cost up to 200,000€ a piece (roughly $270,000).
We have to have a license to own a cab, we have to have a driver’s license, a cab driver’s license. For some reason they seem to be outside the law.
Many taxi drivers like Mark Haslam, a 58-year-old black-cab driver who took part in the protest, believe it’s not fair that Uber is “above the law”, and as a result, are pushing regulators for tougher rules towards the San Francisco-based company. Another driver, John Maloney, 64, was standing on top of a black cab in London dressed as a judge, wearing a white wig and black cape with a sign saying “enforce the law.”
Charles Lichfield, an analyst at Eurasia Group in London had this to say:
European cities have tended to regulate taxi drivers much more than the U.S. I do think the protests have a better chance of succeeding.
In Paris, Nadine Annet, vice president at the FNAT Taxi Association, reported around 15,000 of France’s 55,000 professional taxis are on strike today. A local TV in France reported the drivers slowed down traffic causing a 120-mile jam and prevented private-car services from picking up passengers by blocking off airports.
In Madrid, thousands of drivers blocked off the city’s main avenues, chanted insults at Uber, and chased taxis who weren’t participating in the rally.
In Berlin, more than 500 taxis lined up in columns of 20 blocking busy areas, and in Milan, no taxis have been seen since 5,000 drivers went on strike, which is set to last until 10PM.
So How Does This Benefit Uber?
The Uber company took the protests as an opportunity to promote and market its service.
While the taxi protests may seek to bring Europe to a standstill, we’ll be on hand to get our riders from A to B.
Uber also opened up its services to black-cab drivers in London, and offered luxury cars and cheaper rides, which in turn caused signups in London to rise 850% higher than last Wednesday.
What Next For Uber
As a company now valued at $17 Billion, and responsible for the creation of 20,000 new jobs per month, Uber seems to be helping the economy rather than hurting it. But still, due to the backlash against services such as Uber, governments are starting to listen.
Bloomberg noted that Hamburg’s economy ministry on June 6 issued an order preventing Wundercar, a German peer of Uber, from operating in the city, saying that transporting people for profit and without a license is against the law. Also reported, Berlin administrators are probing a similar move against Uber, spokeswoman Petra Rohland said. A Berlin court banned the Uber Black chauffeur service in April, although the injunction hasn’t been enforced.
The Spanish region of Catalonia said yesterday it will ask Uber — which is available in Barcelona — to immediately stop its activities in the area. The regional government is also telling security forces to increase control and detection of illegal taxi services.
Uber CEO and Co-Founder , Travis Kalanick had this to say:
Citizens of these cities are getting around the cities much more cheaply. How does a regulator or city official take that away from the population? Say that inexpensive transportation that’s high quality, you shouldn’t have?
Well you’ve heard both sides of the story, what’s your opinion on Uber’s transportation service? Beneficial or harmful? Let me know what you think in the comments below, and be sure to follow the discussions on other topics here.