Uber Technologies will suspend its UberPOP ride-hailing service in France, the U.S. company said on Friday, after it faced sometimes-violent protests and local authorities denounced it as an illegal taxi service.
After fierce protests last week by licensed French taxi drivers who argue it threatens their livelihood with unfair competition, France took two executives from California-based Uber into custody and said they will face trial in September.
France’s legal clampdown was the latest setback for Uber in Europe. An Italian court in May banned unlicensed car-sharing services, two months after a German court issued a similar ban and imposed stiff fines for violations of local transport laws.
Taxi drivers in France pay income tax and welfare charges and, depending on their location, sometimes have to pay hundreds of thousands of euros for an operating license. They argue they face unfair competition from unlicensed drivers who have no such costs and so can undercut them on price. A final ruling on UberPOP’s legality in France is due around September.
For its part, Uber argues it is offering a much-needed service that complements licensed taxis and is offering a sideline income for some 10,000 people in France, (it's also offering unlicensed travel from drivers breaking the law)
Didier Hogrel, president of France’s national taxi federation, told BFMTV he was ready to discuss ways to promote parallel services such as licensed chauffeur-driven limousines, which currently face heavy restrictions in France.
But of on-line apps like UberPOP he said: “We won’t be happy until all these illegal applications are banned.”
Meanwhile In London
It has been alleged that Uber London Ltd, has stopped recruiting new drivers for its Uber Exec service after driver complained that there was just not enough work to keep expanding the fleet
Also this week, a video appeared on social media showing Uber's virtual satellite office at the Twickenham festival. Every satellite office requires a license variation, but it is not known if Uber had applied. Taxi Leaks has made an FOI request to ask TfL if such a licence variation was issued on this occasion.