Protesting Taxi Drivers Attack Uber Car Near Paris

Taxi drivers attacked an Uber car while protesting near Charles-de-Gaulle Airport earlier today — the protesters smashed a window, damaged the car hood and slashed a tire. Rude Baguette first spotted the attack on Twitter. We also confirmed with the passengers and Uber that the incident is very real. Nobody got hurt, but the attack was very violent.

Eventbrite co-founder and CTO Renaud Visage, and Five by Five co-founder Kat Borlongan were the two passengers.

“We are more shaken up than hurt,” Visage told me. “We are still in shock because of how violent the attack was.”

This morning, hundreds of taxi drivers were protesting near Paris airports against urban transportation services, such as Uber, LeCab, Chauffeur-Privé, Drive, Snapcar and Allocab. They demand a series of laws due to unfair competition — in France, you have to pay a hefty price to get your taxi license. According to them, being a black car driver is much more lucrative than being a taxi driver, and the government should address that.

“We were on a freeway with cabs parked on the left, blocking the roads. And on the right, there were a few cops,” Borlongan told me. “They made roadblocks and only targeted transportation service cars like the Uber car we were in,” Visage said.

When the Uber car came close to the taxi drivers, they started throwing paint at the car and tried to open a door. “Luckily, the driver had locked the doors,” Visage said. Yet, they still smashed a window in order to grab the passengers. Protesters stopped other black cars too, but it is unclear whether the other incidents were as violent.

A couple of miles later, the car had to stop because one tire was slashed in the attack. The driver changed the flat tire so he could safely drive the two passengers to Paris.

This incident is significant as it shows the influence of cab drivers in France. They wanted to show everyone that they can still block two airports in an act of protest, in a very French way — but they went too far today.

While customers can’t hail transportation companies in the street or at airports, cab drivers still think it’s unfair that you can instantly order a car from your phone. It certainly makes those new services act like taxi services.

That’s why the government recently passed a decree to help cab drivers. Urban transportation startups now have to wait 15 minutes before picking a customer up. But cab drivers still think that it’s not enough. They want a 30-minute delay, minimum fares of $82 (€60) and a driver recruitment ban. Taxi drivers are demanding other changes unrelated to urban transportation services as well, including a sales tax reduction and better deals with hospitals.

In other words, the French government already caved by creating this new 15-minute rule. Will it cave again? It can go either way. But there’s only one sure thing: cab drivers are slowly but surely discrediting themselves by being greedy.

Uber’s France GM Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty sent me the following statement:

Uber strongly condemns this morning’s incident where two Uber users and their driver were confronted with severe violence.

First, we are very glad all involved are safe and ok. Also, we would like to praise our partner who has shown great courage and professionalism and focused on getting his customers out of a very challenging situation.

That the taxis chose to use violence is unacceptable, that they chose to strike is their business. However, Parisians also have a choice when it comes to moving around in their city, and today’s incident will certainly not tempt Parisians into choosing a taxi for their next ride. Safety, reliability and choice, not violence, are what continues to draw customers towards VTCs.

Visage’s tweet:

(Photo credit: Maxime Bonzi)