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Uber Demonstrations Snarl Traffic In London, Madrid, Berlin 507

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the libertarian-fantasies dept.
Graculus (3653645) writes with news that, as threatened, cab drivers in several European cities mounted a protest against Uber today. From the article: "Uber Technologies Inc., the car-sharing service that's rankling cabbies across the U.S., is fighting its biggest protest yet from European drivers who say the smartphone application threatens their livelihoods. Traffic snarled in parts of Madrid and Paris today, with a total of more than 30,000 taxi and limo drivers from London to Berlin blocking tourist centers and shopping districts. They are asking regulators to apply tougher rules on San Francisco-based Uber, whose software allows customers to order a ride from drivers who don't need licenses that can cost 200,000 euros ($270,000) apiece." The Guardian covered the London protest, which ended peacefully 3 p.m..
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Uber Demonstrations Snarl Traffic In London, Madrid, Berlin

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  • That is why they call it Disruptive Technology... in this case the reaction is quite literally disruptive.

    • The reaction is an illegal impedance of traffic, disrupting economic activity and costing millions of dollars. In the United States, peaceful protests are protected speech; physically impeding the movement of any person is not peaceful protest, and you can be arrested if your protest does not part and allow safe passage to all who don't care for your shenanigans. Clogging the streets in protest is, thus, a criminal act; I would be surprised if the UK considered such things legal, rather than an organized
  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @11:06AM (#47213051)

    If it read, "*Anti-*Uber Demonstrations Snarl Traffic..."

  • $300,000 for a license to operate a cab?!!
    Look at me, mr internet entrepreneur guy, disruptin' your business model because I'm a special fuckin' snowflake and the rules don't apply to me!
    • In Europe that isn't even usually the case. In Sweden, one of the countries where Uber is whining about "regulation", the taxi market is deregulated. Anyone can offer taxi services, at any price, providing they meet four basic consumer-protection requirements:

      1. They have a commercial driver's license

      2. They have commercial vehicle insurance

      3. They post their rates openly and visibly

      4. They have a functioning meter, which is inspected occasionally to ensure that it is billing the same amount as the posted rates

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Other than all these regulations I'm about to list, it's completely deregulated!

    • A NYC taxi medallian can break $1M. [businessweek.com].

      And that doesn't include other regulatory costs, insurance, vehicle, nothing.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        It also doesn't imply that the driver can drive or anything like that, because the medallion doesn't have to be held by the driver. The driver can be changed out under the medallion by a taxi company. That's why that medallion proves absolutely nothing to the prospective taxi customer, and offers them absolutely no protection.

  • If not this... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by suman28 (558822) <suman28@@@hotmail...com> on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @11:08AM (#47213069)
    Something new (i.e driverless Google cars) will come along to threaten their livelyhood. Wouldn't today be the best time to start evaluating a different way to earn a living? How many ways can you possibly protest and keep innovation away from people's daily lives?
  • Cab drivers are almost thing of the past. Moment automated cars show up there won't be such thing anymore.
  • 200,000 Euros? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jfbilodeau (931293) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @11:10AM (#47213083) Homepage

    Maybe the problem is not with Uber, but with the cost of being licensed. Is ~200,000 Euros really justified?

    • by zapatero (68511)

      The license and gov't regulation really is the issue of the "fairness" here. The Taxi industry is highly regulated and licensed, in Europe & the U.S... Taxis & Limos that enter an airport area are highly monitored, and regularly fined if it's found by the monitoring police that the vehicle lacks a current license.

      Uber side steps all of this gov't regulation, and, say what you will about that regulation, it is unfair to those drivers who are paying the governments the right to pickup and drop-off pa

    • Re:200,000 Euros? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Firethorn (177587) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @11:27AM (#47213313) Homepage Journal

      Maybe the problem is not with Uber, but with the cost of being licensed. Is ~200,000 Euros really justified?

      200k EU is cheap compared to NYC's $1M medallians [businessweek.com].

      It's blatently anti-competitive.

  • I the UK during the early days of cars they had a law:
    Secondly, one of such persons, while any locomotive is in motion, shall precede such locomotive on foot by not less than sixty yards, and shall carry a red flag constantly displayed, and shall warn the riders and drivers of horses of the approach of such locomotives, and shall signal the driver thereof when it shall be necessary to stop, and shall assist horses, and carriages drawn by horses, passing the same,

    So basically it limited all cars to the s
  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @11:15AM (#47213131) Homepage Journal

    Pro or Con, Uber is pushing the boundaries and bringing some clarity to the old system. Some terms for discussion:

    Rent seeking [econlib.org]

    People are said to seek rents when they try to obtain benefits for themselves through the political arena. They typically do so by getting a subsidy for a good they produce or for being in a particular class of people, by getting a tariff on a good they produce, or by getting a special regulation that hampers their competitors. Elderly people, for example, often seek higher Social Security payments; steel producers often seek restrictions on imports of steel; and licensed electricians and doctors often lobby to keep regulations in place that restrict competition from unlicensed electricians or doctors.

    Fascism [econlib.org]

    Where socialism sought totalitarian control of a society's economic processes through direct state operation of the means of production, fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the "national interest" - that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it. (Nevertheless, a few industries were operated by the state.) Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically. In doing all this, fascism denatured the marketplace. Entrepreneurship was abolished. State ministries, rather than consumers, determined what was produced and under what conditions.

    I find it particularly interesting that not only does Uber do background checks on its drivers and allows the rider to rate the cabbie and cab, it also allows the cabbie to rate the rider, potentially increasing safety for the cabbie in ways that the government model does not and can not. Cabbie murder is a real thing [google.com] and government does not offer a solution. But it's still not surprising that the cartel members are upset that their cartel membership is losing value.

    • > it also allows the cabbie to rate the rider, potentially increasing safety for the cabbie in ways that the government model does not and can not.

      Rider murdered me in the face. One star.

  • by lhaeh (463179) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @11:15AM (#47213141)

    You would think MADD would support deregulation of the taxi industry. Afterall, a big reason people drink and drive is because of the high cost of cabs. It's almost as if they care more about keeping people from drinking them keeping them safe...

    • by praxis (19962)

      People drink and drive mostly in locations where there are not alternatives to driving. I've not really seen many drunk drivers downtown as people walk to the pub. All the drunk drivers I've seen have been in the suburbs. There, taxis cost the same, but the pub is further. It appears that pub density is the problem, not taxi prices.

  • I find that very hard to believe.

  • taxi? or limo? (Score:4, Informative)

    by cellocgw (617879) <cellocgw@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @11:32AM (#47213365) Journal

    A couple examples: the slang for rides in NYC is "yellow" for a taxi and "black" for a limo. The limos can pick anyone up but AFAIK can only charge a fixed fee for a given destination. Taxis are metered for time and distance (w/ airport exceptions).

    Here in the Boston area, limos are fixed-fee either per hour or per location (airports again), and are barred from being flagged down--they're reservation-only. Taxis can be flagged, but I think they are not allowed to pick *anyone* up if they are outside their designated geographic zone. E.g. pick up in Boston, deliver to Worcester, but not allowed to pick up any ride in Worcester.

    So part of the big question is: is Uber a taxi service or a limo service?

    • ...or is it a third type of service?

    • by Dynedain (141758)

      Neither.

      Uber offers 2 services. The one that made them popular was operating as a limo service, but cheap, with fast booking and automated account. All the pluses of limo service, but none of the pains for scheduling, tipping, billing, etc. It's just a modernized towncar service without the legacy overhead.

      Uber's second service is UberX, which they introduced to compete with Lyft. Same principal as lift applies, in that it's community ride-sharing with some monetary compensation, but backed by Uber's existi

  • I took a taxi in London in 2005, it cost me $80 for a 15 minute trip. Yes, the exchange rate was bad, but I am sure that it is similar in price today. Yes, I took the underground there but it had closed for my return. Uber would bring competition and potentially lower prices.

    In related news, hundreds of thousands of Londoners just found out about Uber.

  • Not SHARING (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gerardrj (207690) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @12:09PM (#47213811) Journal

    When you share something you don't charge for it. Uber drivers charge so this is a very simple vehicle/driver for hire setup we commonly call a taxi. If they are a taxi then they must abide by the taxi laws: meters inspected by weights and measures, taxes paid, licensing requirements met. (call them a Limo if you want, the term is irrelevant for most all regulation issues)

    To be a "ride share" scenario the driver would have to have already been going to, near to or past the place you want to be. You could pay a little bit of money to cover the cost of fuel for the time the passenger is in the car.

    This is all pretty well spelled out in the aviation laws already and my guess will be those laws/regulations will wind up as precedent against Uber/Lyft. As a commercial pilot you may charge whatever price you can for flying a passenger to a destination. As a private pilot you may only share a minority of expenses with the passenger and not make any profit. Ex: if it costs $50/hr to fly your plane then you can share that cost with the passenger up to $25/hr. The passenger must also have a common destination/purpose. I suppose you could itemize your charges as $25 for flight sharing, $200 for valet service on the airport ramps but due to oversight and licensing I don't know any pilot that would risk that maneuver.

    So let's apply those same tests to the Uber/Lyft services:

    Cost to operate a vehicle: in the range of $.12 to $.25 per mile, Uber rate: ~$1.50 per mile, 6 times the actual operating cost:
          cost share: fail
    Common destination/purpose: The driver's goal is to get the passenger to the destination, the driver has no business at the destination:
          common purpose: fail

    • Re:Not SHARING (Score:4, Informative)

      by NoImNotNineVolt (832851) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @12:26PM (#47214013) Homepage

      Cost to operate a vehicle: in the range of $.12 to $.25 per mile

      I don't know where you're getting those numbers from, but the US Government currently reimburses for mileage put on privately owned vehicles to the tune of $0.56 per mile.

      Are you even including anything more than fuel, or are you assuming that cars don't have any other consumables and don't lose value from miles driven?

  • by jtara (133429) on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @12:09PM (#47213815)

    While I agree Uber and similar services are skirting and even openly defying regulations, these protests are self-defeating. The public will see the cab drivers as greedy and annoying.

    Uber needs to simply sit back and do nothing about it. The less said the better.

    In the U.S. these protests won't happen, unless the owners pay the drivers to protest. American cab drivers can't afford to take a day off to protest. The cab drivers are probably making less than the Uber drivers..

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by shameless (100182)

      Actually, my office is right across the street from Uber's Boston HQ. A couple weeks ago I suddenly heard a mad chorus of car horns. Looked out the window and it turns out the Boston cabbies were staging a brief rolling protest by driving by and honking, handing out leaflets, etc. There was police and a news truck.

      I don't know what the situation is in Europe, but in many cities in the US the taxi industry is a victim of its own protectionism. Boston, for instance, has issued a fixed number of taxi medal

  • by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Wednesday June 11, 2014 @08:28PM (#47218797) Journal

    Uber exists because taxi service in San Francisco sucks, big time. Anywhere Uber is catching on, they're filling a public need. Customers are not property: if your competition does a better job serving them, you SHOULD be out of business.

    -jcr

If it happens once, it's a bug. If it happens twice, it's a feature. If it happens more than twice, it's a design philosophy.

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