Uber has been banned in Berlin, the second city in Germany to forbid the new mobile app taxi service. Uber was banned from the city of Hamburg in July.
Berlin’s reasons for doing so relate to the idea that Uber drivers are unlicensed, and so are the vehicles on which they transport customers. The other reason? For the sake of the German taxi business.
While it is true that riders aren’t safe with unlicensed vehicles and drivers, it is also just as important for cities to maintain their state taxi businesses that do consist of licensed vehicles and drivers. Uber’s service, by providing convenience via a mobile app and cheap transportation to and from destinations, does undermine taxi services – which charge rather premium prices to ride around the city.
The German state North Rhine-Westphalia has also mandated that Uber achieve proper licensure before being able to operate there as well. Uber just set up shop in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia last week.
Not only is the Uber service causing problems in Germany, it is affecting other places around the world. The Korean city of Seoul has banned Uber, and protests have arisen in the United States with the states of Maryland and Virginia. Maryland taxi cab drivers (30 companies total) have taken Uber to court because it is undermining the taxi business and drivers’ profits, and Uber was banned in Virginia in June because both it and competitor app and company Lyft have yet to obtain the proper licensure to operate a taxi-driving service. In London, Uber has been brought to court but the London court said that only individual Uber drivers can be sued, not the company itself.
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Uber insists on disobeying the ban (and appealing the Berlin ban soon), but the company is forced to pain a fine of 25,000 euros (or $33,462) for each passenger it carries through Berlin. Its “drivers” (Uber denies that transporters are drivers, but instead says that Uber is a platform for drivers and riders) are forced to pay fines of 20,000 euros (or $26,780) if it carries passengers on city streets. The company has already taken out insurance protection for its “drivers,” which removes one problem but, unfortunately, continues to undermine city and state drivers.
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Driving company and taxi service rival Lyft has accused Uber of using 177 of its employees to call and cancel approximately 5,600 taxi rides since October (in the last 10 months).