Uber’s growing pains just won’t quit. Just days after the ride-sharing market leader thought it had caught a break with a favorable ruling by a French court, another hurdle: The French government is now taking aim directly at UberPop, its lower-cost European service.
UberPop could be banned in the country as of January 1, thanks to the service’s alleged violation of local licensing laws. Specifically at issue is the fact that UberPop drivers (like their UberX counterparts in the U.S.) are not required to have the same professional licenses or insurance coverage that traditional drivers need. This, in the eyes of the taxi unions, creates an unfair advantage. And as far as the French government is concerned, it’s a public safety risk.
Last week, a Paris judge ruled in favor of UberPop’s continued operation, a move that sparked protests among France’s taxi driver unions. Today, the French Interior Ministry responded with a direct challenge to the service’s legality.
As the New York Times reports:
“Currently, those who use UberPop are not protected in case of an accident,” Pierre-Henry Brandet, the French Interior Ministry spokesman, told the French news channel BFM TV, on Monday. “So not only is it illegal to offer the service, but for the consumer, it’s a real danger.”
Uber does not break out revenue figures for its different services, though in France — one of the company’s largest markets — roughly 40 percent, or 200,000 people, use the low-cost option — where fares can run more than a third below standard taxi rates
The news is just the latest in a series of PR black eyes for Uber, which has been growing at an astounding rate–too quickly for governments and industry incumbents to keep up, apparently. The threatened ban of UberPop from France’s streets follows bans in Spain, The Netherlands, and Thailand, as well as a controversial launch in Portland, two lawsuits in California over the company’s safety practices, and a seemingly endless stream of headlines about regulatory and ethical hurdles faced by the Silicon Valley darling. The company has also been getting flack for its surge pricing model, which came into effect during a huge Bay Area storm and the recent shooting incident in Sydney, Australia. Youch.