Less than a week after UberPOP opened its service to all users of the Uber-app in Amsterdam, the Dutch Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT), together with the Public Prosecution Service and the Amsterdam police caught four illegal UberPOP-drivers red-handed and arrested them. The Saturday night action with mystery guests had been planned well in advance. The drivers were arrested and fined (with a maximum 4.200 euro). The illegal drivers also received a cease and desist order, meaning that every time they are arrested for the same offense, a fine of 10,000 euros per infraction is due with a maximum of 40.000 euros. This in addition to the fine of up to 4.200 euros.
Exactly how the ILT-action was carried out and whether the mysteryguests actually used the UberPOP-service, is unclear, but the inspectorate does not exclude further actions. The Amsterdam taxi trade is very pleased with the ILT-operations. Earlier there was little understanding of the lack of any activity on the part of the ILT. The inspectors insisted careful study was needed in order to prepare a successful criminal and (possibly) administrative procedure. The local press speculates that opening its service to all Uber-users in Amsterdam, made UberPOP vulnerable to ILT-intervention. Previously UberPOP – seen as a trial by Uber – was only accessible to a selected number of users.
UberPOP, which has operated in the Dutch capital since August, according to Uber operates with ‘several dozen’ amateur taxi drivers and provided over a 1,000 trips a month at half the usual taxi rates. Uber sees its service as part of the sharing economy and as addition to the mobility market and would therefore like to see the Dutch Passenger Transport Act widened to include these illegal services. Whilst the taxi trade and ILT see UberPOP as an illegal taxi service performed by unlicensed, untrained amateur taxi drivers and non-licensed cars.
Apart from working with UberPOP, UberBlack and UberLux (the latter using licensed taxi drivers and licensed taxis) in Amsterdam, Uber recently launched a new service: UberBusiness, mainly aimed at the business market. UberBusiness allows business travelers to pay for Uber-trips via the company account. Another version of Uber was recently launched in Hamburg: UberTaxi, which was already operational in London, allows Uber-users to book taxis outside the radio-circuits.
• Uber opened UberPOP to all Uber-users in Amsterdam.