Taxi companies in France see Uber as a major threat, and recently, there have been several riots and protests by cab companies against Uber. The threat comes from the fact that Uber’s rates are lower, it offers more luxurious cars, it’s easy and charges you directly through your credit card and your phone, and you don’t need to wait outside and hail a taxi down.
Cabs blocked roads to the airports, overturned cars, burned tires, and caused chaos in the streets. In a riot this summer in Paris, 70 cars were damaged, 7 police officers were injured, and 10 people were arrested.
The taxi companies are protesting because they want the French government to ban the Uber app completely. but that would require a court ruling, so for now the government haven’t taken it that far, but they did take a step in that direction. France’s National Assembly voted in favor of the taxi lobbyists by signing a bill that made it very hard for Uber to keep operating in France. The bill imposes restrictions on both taxi services and services like Uber, but the main catch is that it prohibits the use of GPS systems alerting customers of locations of nearby cars, which is everything that Uber is about. No GPS means no Uber, and if Uber can’t operate in France, the taxis win.
Uber argues that this decision is bad for French citizens because they deserve to have a choice in their ride services, and there should be competition in the ride business, but Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, said that he did understand why taxi companies had an issue with his service, since it’s so appealing to consumers that it would become a serious threat to traditional taxi companies.
France is giving in to the taxi companies because the government relies on them for a large share of taxes they are required to pay. Uber doesn’t have to pay those taxes because it is technically not a taxi company – Uber “connects riders to drivers” but doesn’t actually own the cars that give rides. This distinction keeps Uber safe from laws that license taxis, which clearly seems unfair to the taxi drivers and is angering them.