updated 03:24 pm EST, Mon December 30, 2013
French taxi driver anger forces change in transport law
Start-ups offering app-based driver services in France will have to wait for 15 minutes before picking up a customer from January onwards, according to a new bill by the French government. The bill, which affects Uber, LeCab, SnapCar, and other similar services, is an attempt by the government to appease taxi drivers in the country, those who stand to lose heavily from the start-ups.
The bill, spotted by Liberation, stems from the way that taxi services are regulated in the country. TechCrunch reports that taxi drivers have to pay a large fee in order to operate, which in turn allows drivers to pick up customers hailing from the street. Since the app effectively hails a taxi for a customer, it is viewed by the government as being too similar to a taxi, and has led to the creation of a 15-minute delay for unlicensed taxis.
Though the delay will cause some grief to the non-taxi services, there are two exceptions. Driver services working on behalf of a trade fair or convention do not have to adhere to the rule, while bookings placed at a four or five-star hotel can also be picked up without the wait.
The rule change has its critics, and not just the start-ups. France's Autorité de la concurrence, the country's competition authority, advised that it was an unfavorable option for the government to take, with the average wait times for customers doubling as a result of the law. SnapCar CEO Dave Ashton claimed it to be "technically impossible to differentiate automatically between a booking that comes from a 4 or 5 star hotel or convention and some other booking type," and that the company would continue to respond to requests as quickly as possible.
France is not the only area where the local taxi drivers are objecting to app-based driver services. Cab drivers of San Francisco filed a class action lawsuit against Uber in late 2012 for creating unfair business competition in violation of state and local regulations. It has also had trouble with local governments in New York City, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Massachusetts.