By on June 16, 2014


Much like it has in the United States, Uber and other ride-sharing services have upended the traditional taxi in Europe. Just like the U.S., taxi operators have protested the disruption the new services have caused upon them, citing the lack of properly licensed drivers and thoroughly maintained vehicles as a reason to bring them in line with the same regulations they already are mandated to follow. However, unlike the U.S., European taxi drivers took their complaints to the streets, and then some.

Autoblog reports 30,000 drivers in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain blocked the streets to bring awareness to what Uber and its app are doing to allegedly harm the industry, both in regards to public safety and the industry’s bottom line. The Teamsters International Union threw their support behind the protestors, proclaiming “the drivers’ fight in Europe” was their fight, both sharing similar concerns on ride-sharing:

The drivers are calling for fairness and asking that if the private sedan services are allowed to operate that they do so on a level playing field. Uber is currently operating without having to comply with the same rules and regulations that taxi drivers do.

For its part, Uber defends the services it offers to its members, stating its drivers are fully licensed, undergo a screening process prior to taking on passengers, and are evaluated on their performance through customer-satisfaction metrics compiled in-app from every completed ride by its consumer base.

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24 Comments on “European Taxi Drivers Take To The Streets Against Uber...”

  • avatar

    I like Uber.

    It means that if Cabbies don’t step their game up and offer better service for a lower price, they’ll see their wages cut.

    It makes no sense for me to drive in Manhattan because I can’t park safely without getting a parking ticket or having to spend long in a private lot. I want to be able to call a übercab from my iPhone to wherever I am without having to thumb like a hipster.

    However, there’s also the possibility that uber can be used for evil:

    #1. The uber driver could be a criminal and use it to rob people.

    #2. Women could get abducted easier.

    #3. Uber users could use it to call drivers to rob them.

  • avatar

    Here is an article that is a good source for some of the abuses of the system by the medallion holders. The medallion system has to go. It’s bad for the public and bad for the drivers. Let the free market do it’s work.

  • avatar

    What jobs will be left for these people, and truckers, when vehicles drive themselves.

    • 0 avatar

      No jobs are going away thanks to Uber; the customers are just using different drivers. The taxi cartels are being threatened, and nobody likes having their rice bowl taken away. We have been having this same dispute since the Luddites burned the textile factories.

      • 0 avatar

        He’s getting on about fully autonomous cars, which should they come to fruition, would certainly put a lot of taxi drivers out of work. While fully self-driving cars for the average person are still a ways off, if I were a taxi driver or owner of a livery company, I’d be looking hard for ways to innovate.

  • avatar

    Nobody strikes for no reason like Europeans, and this is particularly comical in Madrid, where cabbies went on strike even though Uber doesn’t operate there yet. In London, cabs are fantastic and drivers know the streets better than anyone, but are heinously expensive; seems to me that they’re offering a premium product, and if you’re happy with a schmuck following his GPS around town in an Opel (or need a cab after London shuts down at 11 every night), you can use Uber and save a few quid.

    BUT, as much as it pains me to say this, it sounds like French cabbies may have a point: according to the NYT, French cabs “pay 20 percent more in taxes than Uber chauffers, as well as a 10 percent value-added tax on fares that is not required of Uber cars.” (See ) That is some bullshit, and if I were them, I’d be upset too.

  • avatar

    I suspect Uber use has rocketed since all this hullabaloo started. Ironic. MW

  • avatar

    I have a hard time with this issue.

    I think that Taxi’s are over regulated and over taxed. That is not the fault of the operators really. Maybe in some big taxi towns, but it’s not a corrupted system all over.

    While I like that uber is throwing the bad system we have into a spin and forcing a relook, I don’t think it’s fair that the guys following the rules are getting cheated by competitors who in many cities are breaking the law. The taxis have big investments in compliance and it’s really not fair at all to just change the rules because all of a sudden the politicians find they are embarrassingly unable to enforce their poorly constructed, over regulated, and over taxed systems.

    The pols are likely to cave due to voter pressure. The voters rarely realize that they are asking to cheat certain businesses, or maybe they don’t care. Maybe they hate the taxis. Don’t hate the taxis.

    If you have gotten into similar bad taxi experiences enough times you should realize that it’s less likely that the drivers all got together and decided to treat you that way, or that taxi drivers are genetically faulty in certain ways, than it is that the regulations and accepted business models really generate the scents, delays, and over pricing.

    Bottom line: Taxis today are the result of decades of regulation. We should change the system, but not overnight, and not without respecting the investments made by the taxi drivers.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. It threatens the rule of law when a sizable-enough group can just ignore it.

      To the taxi companies: all you need to do is 1) find ways to cut prices and 2) take rides via smartphone. Uber hasn’t thrown up any barriers, and there’s nobody in a better position to make a better Uber than existing taxi companies.

      I for one am NOT going to hire an Uber driver for fear of liability. There are already questions about who pays up in an Uber accident. The remaining concerns about professionalism, ability, efficiency and bodily safety are just too up-in-the-air. I’ll spend the extra few bucks for a legit cab ride for now.

      • 0 avatar

        The price advantage of uber isn’t efficiency in most cases. What percentage of uber trips are really “going that way” or “sharing the ride”? Few or this wouldn’t be an issue. To cut prices, the taxis need to stop paying taxes, following fare setting laws, and paying for liability insurance.

        The whole professionalism and safety thing is a ruse. Regulations only get results when they are properly designed and enforced. Outside of London, how many cities really ensure the professionalism and cleanliness of cabs?

      • 0 avatar

        This is the part that gets me. I’d love to hail a cab by smartphone, but I can’t. That’s not Uber’s fault, they’re just stepping into the obvious void.

  • avatar

    So, it seems:
    1. Taxi drivers say: ‘Uber will terk er jerbs!’
    2. Taxi drivers strike.
    3. People who need taxi service must go to alternatives, like Uber.
    4. They realize that Uber is a better service than traditional taxis, and never use taxis again.
    5. ????
    6. Profit.

    Yep, this is definitely going to work out well for the taxi drivers.

  • avatar

    I’ve never understood the concept of blocking traffic as a means of getting people to go over to your side. Sitting in traffic doesn’t make me sympathetic to your cause, it makes me think you are a big jerk.

  • avatar

    Isn’t this just making Uber look even MORE appealing to people who need a Taxi?

  • avatar

    Disruption sounds fun, until ignoring the law becomes commonplace. Then things get upredictable real fast. If you think you’re not affected by non-criminal laws like this, think again.

    Many of these “cabal” laws started out as consumer-protection laws. Many of them still primarily function to protect the consumer.

    • 0 avatar

      We’re affected by them, that’s certain, but it simply means we pay more than we otherwise would. This is particularly true with goods/services that don’t have large fixed infrastructure costs where duplication would be cost-prohibitive (think utilities).

      Then again, can you imagine the traffic in NYC if they had a near-unlimited number of taxis?

  • avatar

    As someone that was in London during these strikes and used both Uber’d drivers and the jolly ol’black cabs, I can tell you that the strike [i]only[/i] drew attention to Uber’s awesomeness. The BBC reported Uber downloads increasing by 850% after the strike.

    It’s not all sunrises and dancing girls though. Many European Citiy streets are convoluted driving disasters and on two occasions, google maps failed my Uber driver who then got us lost. One even had to pull over and ask a pedestrian for directions. London Cabbies solve this problem by spending four years studying to take a test proving that they have committed the roadways of London to memory.

  • avatar

    The ability to use a computer in the palm of our hand anywhere, anytime is upsetting many entrenched businesses. From brick an mortar retail(ask Best Buy and Blockbuster) to taxis. No business has an inherent right to exist. You have to earn a customer’s loyalty and their money. If you can’t or won’t evolve then you will be left behind. This smacks of the same whining by the Big 3 for higher import tariffs on Japanese imports in decades past. Stop crying and do better.

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