The conflict between taxi drivers and urban transportation startups in France is not over — the French government has put a stop to new limo driver licenses for the next two months. This decision comes after a strike organized by taxi drivers on Monday. An arbitrer was appointed on Wednesday to find a solution for the longstanding opposition between taxi drivers and so-called black car services.
In other words, startups will have to fight for the same drivers for now — the pool of drivers won’t be increasing. For example, Chauffeur-Privé will have to lure Uber drivers so that they switch to Chauffeur-Privé.
As a reminder, the cab industry is very regulated in France. There is a fixed amount of licenses available. If you want to become a cab driver, you have to purchase a taxi license from an existing driver. These licenses can cost up to $270,000 (€200,000).
Cab drivers consider LeCab, Chauffeur-privé, SnapCar, Allocab, Drive, Uber and countless of others as direct competitors — it’s much cheaper to get a limo driver license. Taxi Drivers say it’s unfair, and that taxi licenses will lose a lot of value due to urban transportation startups.
In December, the government created the 15-minute law for Uber, Chauffeur-Privé and others. Drivers had to wait 15 minutes between the time a customer hails them and they let them in the car. Most startups didn’t even try to comply with the rule, and it was recently suspended by the Conseil d’État.
Taxi driver unions said that they would regularly go on strike to protest that decision. The government had to do something so that startups and taxi drivers could talk again. That’s why Thomas Thévenoud was appointed. He is in charge of finding a “fair and durable solution that will benefit everyone while taking into account the different needs in terms of urban transportation.”
It’s no small feat. The situation in Paris will be the main issue as there is a dearth of taxi drivers in Paris. He plans to present a solution in exactly two months. But for now, a limo license freeze doesn’t seem like a “fair and durable solution.”
(Photo credit: Maxime Bonzi)