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Dublin: 5 °C Friday 19 April, 2019
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'Thuggery disguised as protest': Why are so many people against Uber?

Several European countries have tried to ban the app, but where does Ireland stand?

A FINE GAEL MEP has hit out at some of her colleagues who want to ban taxi app Uber.

The taxi-sharing service has come under fire on both sides of the Atlantic, with protests in several countries.

France Uber Riot police standing by an overturned car during a taxi drivers demonstration in Paris. Source: Michel Euler

Last month a mass protest in Paris saw taxi drivers blockade major transport hubs. The demonstration got out of hand, with cars being torched.

Courtney Love got caught up in the riot – live-tweeting the whole thing.

UberPOP was banned in France as a result of the protests. It differs from the main app because it allows non-professional drivers to register their car and transport other passengers.

Registered taxi drivers claim the app is unfair competition, while regulating it remains a grey area.

The EU Transport committee is currently debating the issue and a number of MEPs want Uber gone.

Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune has criticised her colleagues for taking this stance, saying a pan-European overhaul of taxi regulation system is needed instead of an outright ban.

Uber is part of the ‘sharing economy’, which includes companies such as Airbnb. The sector is currently estimated to be worth about €10 billion in Europe and is forecasted to grow to €250 billion in the next decade.

Source: European Parliament/YouTube

Clune, a member of the EU Transport Committee, has said taxi unions across Europe are trying to “wipe Uber out of existence”.

Some of my colleagues on that committee believe that we can and should regulate Uber out of the market completely. This is nonsense.

“The actions of the taxi protestors in France recently were little more than thuggery disguised as legitimate protest.

We cannot regulate Uber out of existence just because the traditional industries don’t like the competition. Those industries must evolve to meet the challenge of the sharing economy and adapt to what the consumer really wants.

“Love it or hate it, the sharing economy is here to stay. It’s time to work with it and harness the opportunities that the sharing economy can bring.”

The Irish connection

There were 28,953 active taxi driver licences in Ireland as of 30 April.

Jerry Brennan was one of the National Irish Taxi Association’s (NITA) representatives on the advisory committee that helped to compile the Taxi Regulation Act 2013.

He said it was “fortuitous” that Uber and a similar app WunderCar “appeared on the horizon” around the same time as it enabled the legislation to regulate their business.

Uber suspended in France Source: Andrew Matthews

As a result, all drivers who use these apps must be licenced in the same way all taxi drivers are.

Brennan said apps that use unlicensed drivers place the public in a “very, very vulnerable position”.

He said regulations in Ireland also ensure cars using these type of apps have to use a meter connected directly to the milometer, as opposed to a virtual meter that uses GPS coordinates.

Complaints

Uber has faced legal inquiries in several European countries over the last year. The company responded by filing complaints with the European Commission against France, Germany and Spain.

Earlier this month, Uber’s director of public policy for Europe Simon Hampton spoke to a panel at the European Parliament.

If you’re in a city Uber hasn’t come to yet, then creating a group of people to say they want Uber and to put pressure on local politicians – that’s hard.

“If you’re in a city where Uber has been and is about to be taken away from, possibly you’ve got the capacity to persuade people to come out and speak up,” he said.

Read: Why Uber could be about to become the most valuable startup in history

Read: Germany has banned Uber… again

Read: Why ridesharing has run into some major roadblocks in Ireland

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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