Are you in the German capital and in need a ride? If you do, you can forget about using Uber. The popular San Francisco-based taxi-service app is getting the boot from Berlin. Bloomberg has the story:
Uber Technologies Inc. has been banned by a Berlin court from providing taxi services via its smartphone software, in a sign the rebellion by local chauffeurs to the U.S. company’s business model in Europe is growing. […]Uber hurt competition by violating rules that force limousine drivers to return to their base after delivering customers, the Berlin Taxi Association said in a statement on its website. The Berlin district court confirmed that it had issued an interim injunction valid for the state of Berlin following the request of a single taxi driver.“Whereas Parisian taxi drivers have demolished the odd Uber limousine for reasons of competition, this brave Berlin taxi entrepreneur has chosen to use the legal means he is entitled to,” the association said.The taxi group cited investments by Google Inc. (GOOG) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as a sign that Uber, valued at about $3.5 billion, is acting deliberately in violating local rules.“The only thing these companies care for is maintaining the old, blocking the new, preventing more people from having more choice, failing consumers and their own drivers,” Uber said.
Uber is facing opposition from taxi services across Europe, and the bureaucrats have backed the taxis. In Brussels, where the government sets the price of fares, Uber is now fined €10,000 anytime a driver without a taxi license is hailed via the app. A Belgian court imposed the fine after Taxi Verts, one of the only two chauffeur businesses in the city, alleged “unfair competition” against the American start-up. France came up with different way to level the playing field. A new regulation from Paris forces Uber drivers to wait 15 minutes before picking up customers, even if those customers are only a block away.It’s understandable that local taxi services are upset by Uber’s competitive edge. After all, in the age of smartphones, why not just ping some guy and ride in his car for a fraction of the cost of a registered taxi? When bureaucrats meddle with the market in order to protect outdated industries, they hurt customers and discourage innovation. Like it or not, creative destruction is the key to the free market.