UBER IN FRANCE

While December should be a month of joy and happiness, Uber has been facing bans and problems again in Europe.

Earlier this month the service was banned in Spain as a preventive measure of a local judge. The measure came ahead of a complaint filed by the Madrid Taxi Association.

Another local judge, this time in France, decided not to ban UberPop, which is similar to UberX in the United States. However, as the NYT appointed on Monday 15, “In the latest legal twist for Uber, Pierre-Henry Brandet, the French Interior Ministry spokesman, said that new legislation called the Thévenoud Law — which requires all drivers who chauffeur paying passengers to have a license and appropriate insurance — would form the basis of the ban.” And of course, UberPop does not meet the licensing requirement.

Mr. Brandet called for “better regulating the profession to avoid unfair competition.” He announced fines up to $370,000 and up to two years in prison for those who operate such services, starting on January first.

Nonetheless and against all expectations and thoughts, a recent report made by Zendrive, a driving analytics company, concluded that “Taxi drivers are faster, less safe than Uber and Lyft counterparts”.

To perform the study, Zendrive hired passengers to take rides and secretly record the experience. The study assessed the driving habits of more than 1,000 drivers in San Francisco and shows that taxi drivers were the worst at obeying traffic laws (such as speeding or phone usage).

It proves how in San Francisco Uber, Lyft and Sidecar drivers were the least likely to speed: 22% of rideshare cars in the study exceeded the speed limit, compared to 27% of average drivers and 32% of taxi drivers. When using the phone while driving, non-professional drivers were least likely (18%) to do it, with rideshare drivers coming in next (20%), and taxi drivers coming in last (25%).

This report is very relevant since the claim about safety has been constantly held by Uber enemies. Now that bans are becoming more and more frequent, maybe policy makers should better consider statistics and studies and take the opportunity to improve a market that has not changed over the past decades. They should assess the situation for the benefit of consumers, which is the ultimate aim of competition policy. Protecting unquestioningly an antiquated industry does not seem to be the best option any more.

References:

El País “Judge orders Uber to cease all operations in Spain”

New York Times “France Says It Will Ban Uber’s Low-Cost Service in New Year”

Business insider “French Cabbies Say They're Going To Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber”

“Taxi drivers are faster, less safe than Uber and Lyft counterparts, study finds” by Jessica Plautz

National Post “Chris Selley: The anti-Uber double standard”