In Germany Uber Technologies is retreating to the cities of Berlin and Munich as it grapples with a ban from using unlicensed cab drivers in its UberPOP-system. Services in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Düsseldorf will be suspended. In a statement last week it pointed at ‘a difficult regulatory environment.’ , it said in a statement on Friday, citing a difficult regulatory environment. UberPOP has also been withdrawn in Italy, Spain, France, Belgium and The Netherlands after similar bans like the one in Germany. That measure banned Uber from running services using unlicensed cab drivers and set stiff fines for any violations of local transport laws. In Germany and in most other countries which used to run UberPOP, the company is now offering UberX – in its European variant running with licensed drivers and vehicles – besides UberBlack and UberLux. “For many prospective Uber partners the process of registering an independent private hire enterprise has proved as too costly and time consuming,” Uber told Reuters in a statement.
Uber added it would improve its services in the two remaining German cities and “intensify the dialogue” with law makers and authorities, saying Germany remained one of its most important global markets.
For the national app and cooperative group Taxi Deutschland, which played a large part in the fight against UberPOP, the Uber-withdrawal comes as no surprise. Uber wanted to establish itself as a “cheap alternative” to the taxi industry. Dieter Schlenker, CEO of Taxi Duetschland: “The fact that we in Germany emphasize consumer protection, safety and training, Uber interpreted as ‘difficult conditions’. Here they are identical nationwide and all taxis and taxi drivers work according to these standards. We have around 4,000 taxi drivers in Frankfurt, and to our knowledge, have only 15 to 20 drivers who chose Uber as a business partner.”
According to Schlenker the reason is obvious: “Taxi drivers work through the taxi companies economically and efficiently. Taxi radio-circuits provide significantly more driving contracts on more favorable terms. Traditional taxi radio-circuits are organized as a cooperative. This is the economic support of many small independent taxi companies in the foreground – and not primarily the pursuit of profit, as with Uber and other taxi Internet platforms.”
For Dieter Schlenker it is clear that “to establish a legal taxi service, is not just a quick-fix Silicon Valley business model. And definitely not a legitimate business model for Uber – in which the safety and consumer protection can be neglected – and has already been banned in Germany.”
- For the taxi trade in Germany consumer protection, safety and training are paramount.