Following the example of Brussels, Seoul and Hamburg, the Senate of the German federal capital Berlin has just decided to ban the Uber app for booking private hire vehicles (‘Mietwagen’) and for booking private vehicles and their drivers (UberPOP). The app is contrary to the Passenger Transport Act and any infringement carries a fine of 25.000 euros. The injunction is not yet final (like in Hamburg, which suspended the ban pending legal procedures).
The Senate particularly wants to protect passengers using UberPOP’s unlicensed drivers and vehicles. In these cases drivers face a fine of 20.000 euros.
The international Taxi Times trade magazine recently revealed that passengers might not or only partly be covered by these operators’ private car insurance. One operator, working for Wundercar, a similar operation to UberPOP, had his insurance cancelled when the insurer found out the car was being used as a private taxi.
Uber has announced it will appeal and complains about ‘restricting the freedom of mobility in and around Berlin’:”The decision of the Berlin authorities is anything but progressive”, an Uber speaker told the Berlin Morgenpost newspaper. “You curtail the choice of consumers. As a new entrant, we introduce competition in the market which has not had any for years.”
The taxi industry, which, in many European cities took to the streets in protest on June 11, sees services like Uber and Wundercar – much cheaper than taxis – as illegal competition and a threat to their existence. As a public means of transport, the taxi is subject to strict rules and regulations, the taxi industry argues.
Berlin saw an impressive demonstration of a 1.000 taxi drivers, whilst in an unfortunate move that same day Berlin’s Mayor, Klaus Wowereit, visited Uber’s new HQ, wearing an ‘I love Uber’ hat and sunglasses.
• Berlin’s Uber-ban, following strong protests by the taxi trade, follows the example of Hamburg, Brussels and Seoul.