Uber France wants to open reservation platform to taxi drivers
Uber France announced on Wednesday that it wants to open its app-based reservation platform up to taxi drivers.
The move comes one week after France’s Constitutional Court ruled that taxi drivers also have the right to work as minicabs, known in France as Véhicules de Tourisme Avec Chauffeur (VTC).
“Given the situation, what we want is to open Uber up to taxis,” Thibaud Simphal, director-general of Uber France, said at a conference in Paris. “We encourage all other existing platforms, not just Uber, but our competition Chauffeur-Privé, SnapCar, etc. to do the same.”
Simphal said that by opening up Uber’s platform, taxi drivers would be allowed to accept reservations “on a VTC platform, as a VTC driver, using a car that is not a taxi”.
“They can do it, last week’s decision confirms it, the government is going in this direction and we would like to do something concrete with this opportunity,” he added.
Uber has had a tumultuous year in France, coming up against a number of legal obstacles. In December, an appeals court fined the California-based company €150,000 for “misleading commercial practices” over its now defunct low-cost service UberPop, which allowed unlicensed drivers to work as cabbies using their own cars.
In its decision, the court said that Uber had misrepresented UberPop by claiming it was a ride-sharing service when it was first launched in 2014.
Although Uberpop was officially banned in France in January 2015, the company continued to run the low-cost service for several months, sparking a series of violent protests by taxi unions in June.
Uber finally shut it down in July 2015 after Simphal and another executive were arrested and charged with "misleading commercial practices (and) complicity in the illegal exercise of the taxi profession”. The pair are expected to go on trial in mid-February.
One of the world’s most valuable startups, Uber is worth an estimated $50 billion and operates in more than 50 countries.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)