Taxi drivers around Europe are braced for protests against the controversial phone app Uber which is deemed a threat to their interests. The demonstrations to take place in cities such as London, Paris, Berlin and Milan underline how Europe's traditional taxi industry has been shaken up by the introduction of the cab-booking app which taxi drivers consider as unregulated.
In London, the protests will take place in Trafalgar Square and local authorities have already warned of significant traffic disruption in the capital.
Taxi drivers in Madrid and Barcelona organised a strike against the startup, even though Uber has not officially launched in the Spanish cities. According to the local El Pais, many drivers there are using the app to do business anyway, operating in a legal gray area.
Why Taxi Drivers Protest Over Uber
Taxi drivers claim that they are not greatly concerned about competition, but they do expect their competitors to play by the rules. Taxi drivers in London feel its regulator, Transport for London (TfL), is not enforcing its own regulations as it should. First of all, taxi drivers in the UK’s capital spent at least two years preparing for “The Knowledge Test”, the notably difficult test that requires prospective drivers to memorise every street in London before they get their license. But this is not the case with Uber drivers.
Also, given that Uber “riders” book their taxis through the app and the fare is determined by means of an app that functions as a taxi meter, this is against TfL’s regulations, which stipulate that taxi drivers should have a meter fitted to the vehicle.
Also, unlike private hire firms, Uber has no booking office or telephone intermediary to arrange their jobs that regulations require. They arrange their jobs themselves from the street, something that minicab drivers are not allowed to do.
Moreover, Taxi drivers question whether in the event of an emergency, an insurance firm would compensate the costs of an accident.
Richard Leipold, the chairman of the Berlin Taxi Association, told the New York Times: "Everyone should play by the same rules. You can’t have competition between someone who pays all their taxes and someone who doesn’t".
All in all, taxi drivers, argue that Uber should be forced to follow the same licensing and fare rules as traditional taxis, otherwise unhealthy competition will occur and this is not fair for cab drivers. Watch this video by Euronews to get the real vibe of anti-Uber protests around Europe and how taxi drivers reflect on the issue.
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