Monday 26 September 2016

Uber suspends low-cost service in France amid tensions with traditional taxi drivers

Published 03/07/2015 | 12:02

French striking taxi drivers block the access to Orly airport, south of Paris, France, during a national protest against car-sharing service Uber June 25, 2015. French taxi drivers stepped up protests against U.S. online cab service UberPOP on Thursday, blocking road access to airports and train stations in Paris and other cities. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann
French striking taxi drivers block the access to Orly airport, south of Paris, France, during a national protest against car-sharing service Uber June 25, 2015. French taxi drivers stepped up protests against U.S. online cab service UberPOP on Thursday, blocking road access to airports and train stations in Paris and other cities. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

Uber has suspended its low-cost ride-hailing service in France in a bid to defuse an escalating legal dispute and violent tensions with traditional French taxi drivers.

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An Uber spokesman said the low-cost service, called UberPop in France, is being suspended.

UberPop links users to drivers without professional taxi or chauffeur licences. French authorities had ordered it shut down but Uber refused, pending a legal decision at a top French court.

Uber France chief Thibaud Simphaud said in an interview in Le Monde that Uber changed its mind "in a spirit of bringing peace" with authorities.

Mr Simphaud and another European manager for San Francisco-based Uber were detained this week and ordered to stand trial to face charges including "deceptive commercial practices" and complicity in illegal activities.

Read more: Uber dealt blow as California rules drivers are employees, not contractors

The dispute reflects the broader struggle of governments to keep up with fast-moving technology - and how to tax operations like Uber and protect workers and consumers.

Companies like Uber argue that governments are unfairly protecting entrenched industries instead of adapting to the times.

Uber Technologies has run into legal problems elsewhere in Europe, as well as in China and India.

Uber's regular app-based service, which connects registered drivers with passengers, continues to function in France. Uber claims to have 400,000 customers a month in France.

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