Slovak Taxi Drivers Protest Uber in Bratislava
October 7, 2015 Leave a comment
Although the ride-sharing service Uber has plenty of fans in the United States, they haven’t been as well received in Europe, where they began offering their services about four years ago. The company’s business model, which allows users to find a local driver with an app on their phone and request a ride with that person, has done well in cities with transit difficulties. But unlike in the United States, many European cities have put significant work into developing mass transit systems that actually work. And part of those systems are taxi services.
Uber has already faced court injunctions in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain for failing to live up to taxi licensing rules. Taxi drivers, even in the United States, have to meet far more demanding requirements than Uber divers, who pretty much just have to watch a video and own a car. Requiring so little of their drivers is part of how Uber keeps it’s rates low enough to be a tempting option for people who need to get somewhere.
Recently, in the Slovakian city of Bratislava, members of that city’s taxi driver’s union protested Uber. According to Ondrej Wenzl, the head of the union, almost 500 drivers took part in the protest, which involved slowly driving their cars over a bridge crossing the Danube river. The union is calling on the government of Slovakia to force Uber to hold their drivers to the same standards that union taxi drivers have to follow.
Slovak officials have stated that the government has already warned Uber that, if their drivers do not start obtaining the proper documentation, they could face fines of up to 40,000 euros. Those fines would be levied against the drivers themselves, which is likely far more than the average Uber driver could afford, based on the kind of money those drivers actually make.