French taxi drivers are angry once again. Earlier today, thousands of taxi drivers blocked the roads to protest against Uber, Chauffeur-Privé, Heetch and other urban transportation companies. In order to avoid another debacle, France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls quickly agreed to work on a new law.
This time, taxi drivers burned tires on the ring road around Paris, blocking cars until firemen could stop the fire and remove the tires. It was difficult to access airports and train stations as well. 22 drivers were arrested by the police for various incidents.
Back in June, taxi drivers were protesting against UberPOP. With UberPOP, everybody could become an Uber driver — taxi drivers saw the service as unfair competition as they have to get a special license. Since then, Uber has suspended UberPOP in France.
So what’s new for cabbies? Not much. They don’t like competing with Uber and Chauffeur-Privé, especially when it comes to picking up clients around airports.
If you want to become a taxi driver in France, you have to buy a license on a secondary market for around $200,000 (€180,000). If you want to become an Uber driver, you have to pass a cumbersome test involving 250 hours of training. And the Government has been issuing this new type of license very slowly.
But it seems like it’s not enough for cabbies. Hence today’s protests. The government wanted to avoid a rerun of last year’s violent protests. Manuel Valls met with union representatives and announced that the Government will work on a new set of rules that would be fair for taxi drivers and Uber drivers.
In the coming days, someone will be nominated to write these new rules and come up with a new draft law in three months. The most extremist cabbies want more — many drivers simply want the Government to ban Uber, LeCab, Chauffeur-Privé and others once and for all.
But hundreds of thousands if not millions of people are using ride-hailing apps today. Banning Uber and others would be an unpopular and counterintuitive move as the government is also tackling unemployment.
This isn’t the first time the government is trying to pass a new law to please cabbies. Two years ago, Thomas Thévenoud tried to regulate this industry with no such luck. In other words, today’s protests are just business as usual.