Uber taxis are being hailed as a threat to cab drivers worldwide – and the mobile app has led to strikes and government showdowns.
The latest government to make a stand against the app is France, where the interior ministry has banned the app with a new law.
The measure will ban the peer-to-peer carpooling service and tighten up the rules on chauffeured rides. The law will negate car insurance for Uber drivers involved in accidents.
The fuss about Uber is that instead of calling a cab firm or hailing a taxi on the street, passengers can flag a taxi on their mobile.
The app tracks where the nearest taxi is and when it arrives outside where you are waiting, and controversially offers a much cheaper price for the same ride than a conventional cab.
Uber is based in San Francisco, USA, and has spread worldwide provoking protests from taxi drivers as the Uber drivers are individuals who do not have to be regulated or tied to a taxi company.
Industry and technology experts praise Uber as a disruptive technology that is changing the business model of the taxi industry.
“Taxi drivers don’t like it because they want to keep their prices high and feel Uber is unfair competition,” said IT law and data privacy expert Annabelle Richard of the Paris office of law firm Pinsent Masons.
“Uber is making businesses and regulators think about their practises and how they deal with new services that are technology based. Uber is to the benefit of customers, and regulators and businesses will have to consider this.”
Uber has met stiff opposition in many countries.
Bans and strikes
A German court banned the service following a challenge from the national taxi service, but the ban was overturned on appeal.
Other countries embroiled in legal issues over Uber include Thailand, Russia, Israel and many European states.
Uber offers different levels of service depending on the location, type of vehicle and whether the driver is a cabbie or an individual.
One service offers ride-sharing with drivers who have empty seats in their vehicle.
Uber has experienced phenomenal growth over the past 12 months. At the start of 2014, the firm was operating in 60 cities in 21 countries. Now, the total is 250 cities in 50 countries.
“The company is six times bigger now than 12 months ago,” said an Uber spokesman. “Our growth is remarkable and we still have many cities and countries to start the service in.
“Next year, Uber will generate a million jobs worldwide. Our service makes sharing a car cheaper than owning one and the knock-on effect is less traffic and pollution in many cities.”