Uber Irish boss thinks company will prevail in battle with regulator
Uber's Irish boss "strongly" believes the company will be able to roll out its ride-sharing service in Ireland - despite being banned from doing so under current Irish law.
Kieran Harte told the Sunday Independent that take-up of the product here had been slower than in other European countries because of rules that allow only taxi drivers to offer people lifts for money.
His comments, in response to a question on whether Uber would consider pulling out of Ireland, indicate the company is hopeful that its lobbying effort, which has enlisted former Department of Finance secretary-general John Moran, will succeed.
Uber is operating here as a taxi and chauffeured limousine service. All drivers on the platform are licensed under the regulations, meaning ordinary members of the public can't sign up to be drivers, as they can in other countries.
That means a chance for ordinary drivers to offer cheaper services is lost.
"In order for Uber to operate a ride-sharing service for reward, the legislation would have to be amended," said a spokeswoman for the National Transport Authority.
"Our position is that it is in the public interest that any person offering a car service for reward should be subject to vetting and their vehicle's safety should be checked on a regular basis, as happens with small public service vehicles and their drivers."
Uber has been embroiled in a number of safety scandals, and on Friday offered nearly $30m to settle a US lawsuit that argued its safety claims were misleading.
Harte insisted that regulation is at Uber's "core", adding that to get on to the platform drivers would have to provide a full clean driving licence, a criminal background check, the appropriate insurance and a certificate of roadworthiness for their vehicle.
"Pretty much they're all the same standards of regulation that currently exist in the taxi market. We probably don't think that there needs to be as many barriers to entry in terms of local entry tests, because technology these days really takes away that requirement to have to know every main street in the town," he said.
"We're talking about taking the cars that are already on the roads and utilising them better to serve the transport needs of the citizens.
"Ireland has huge pockets that are under-served by public transport, and that includes taxis.
"There are huge pockets where it just hasn't made economic or financial sense for taxi drivers, so we strongly believe that ride-sharing is on its way. It just makes too much sense."
Sunday Indo Business