The February 2014 launched UberPOP was a target to lot of protest and criticism in France recently. With many protests turning into guerrilla warfare and public flipping and burning of Uber cars all over the place, it was only a matter of time until the transportation company gave up.
More recently, two Uber leaders were arrested for running illegal taxi operations on Monday. They are deemed to be judged in September for the same. Taking all this into consideration, the transportation service announced that UberPOP will be suspended from service starting 8 pm today.
There are many branches of Uber all over the world, Uber, UberX, UberVAN and UberPOP being the ones which were currently active in France. While other divisions require that a driver has a professional license and undergo a tedious 250 hours training session to work for the company, UberPOP was quite different in that approach.
Drivers didn’t need to have any sort of professional licenses thus making anybody a Uber cabbie. This obviously didn’t go down well with the local taxi services and they considered it an unfair competition.
UberPOP has already seen bad times as it was already banned in Brussels, Netherlands with latest suspension coming in France.
Thibaud Simphal, Uber France CEO, told Le Monde that the service had to be suspended because UberPOP drivers were getting physically assaulted and attacked over the past few days. Also, he admitted that being a UberPOP driver was a hard job as you barely earned enough to pay for the cab annually. Moreover, Uber payed the drivers’ fines whenever they were fined until today. But considering that the Government, taxi drivers and the police were all going after UberPOP, it got a lot harder to keep UberPOP drivers on the road.
This new development will not effect Uber, UberX and UberVAN in France, however, and these subdivisions of the transportation company can operate without a hitch. In fact, this new controversy about UberPOP somehow clears the path for other Uber services to operate in the light.
Here is Uber’s complete statement about UberPOP:
In the light of last week’s violence, we have today decided to suspend uberPOP, our ride sharing service, until September’s Constitutional Court decision. It’s a tremendously sad day for our 500 000 French uberPOP passengers, as well as the drivers who used the platform. However, safety must come first. Our regular UberX service, which uses licensed cars and makes up a majority of our trips each day in France, will continue to operate as usual.
UberPOP has been an important source of income for the 10 000 drivers using the platform. They’ve also told us how much they love the flexibility that comes with this work: the freedom to pick their kids up from school, look after an elderly relative or attend an evening course. All on their schedule, working when it is convenient. So our priority now is to get these 10 000 partners back on the road as quickly as possible, potentially as licensed UberX drivers.
Unfortunately, the current licensing process has become too much of an obstacle course. It once took two weeks to get up and running with a license. But today we have 12,000 partners who have applied for one and are needlessly waiting–with only 215 applicants licensed since the Thevenoud Law came into force. It can take six months, likely longer for an unemployed person to get a license, and now requires 250 hours of training (compared to 25 for a light aircraft pilot’s license) as well as a €1,500 down payment. The use of smaller or environmentally friendly cars (exactly the ones we want on our city streets) are prohibited. 12 000 unemployed and counting who made it through the process to become a partner-driver is a terrible missed opportunity, especially in a country with over 10 per cent unemployment.
We understand that new technology is disruptive: not just for established companies, but for the people who work in them and their families. This is especially true at a time of high unemployment. But we believe there is a way forward that provides new opportunities for all drivers including taxi drivers, as well as passengers who love the convenience of services like Uber, Heetch and Djump. Hundreds of taxi drivers have already switched over to Uber and are making a better living, with a work schedule to suit their family’s’ needs. It is heartbreaking to see the violence in the streets when we know that taxi drivers can earn more on the Uber platform. It’s why we need to do a better job explaining and communicating the advantages of Uber to all drivers.
Finally a heartfelt thanks to the thousands of drivers who made uberPOP possible. And to all our million plus French riders for their support. In September the Constitutional Court will decide whether the provisions in the Thevenoud Law targeting uberPOP are constitutional or not. In the meantime we’ll be working hard to get all the partner-drivers affected by today’s suspension back on the road again as quickly as possible.