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European Court: Cabs Can Drive In London’s Bus Lanes, But Uber Can’t

European Court: Cabs Can Drive In London’s Bus Lanes, But Uber Can’t
[Photo: Flickr user Michiel Jelijs]

Uber has a long history of going where it isn’t welcome–setting up shop in new cities, breaking existing regulations, and then waging a legal war until it (often) gets its way. But there is one place it seems it will not be going: the bus lanes in London.

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London’s famous black cabs benefit from being allowed to use special road lanes set aside for buses, which increase their ability to quickly maneuver through the city. Private taxi companies, such as Uber, have always been banned from using these lanes. That policy was recently challenged by a private taxi firm called Addison Lee, which argued that this stifled competition between taxi companies and constituted unlawful state support.

The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice has now rendered a verdict, and it isn’t good for Uber.

London’s policy does not use state resources in a way that provides “a selective economic advantage” for London cabs, the court says. In part, it says, London cabs are different from their rivals, on the basis that they are pick customers up without having to take an advance booking.

The Transport for London authority has claimed that allowing thousands of minicabs to use the bus lanes would have a negative impact on bus services and, therefore, public transport.

It’s a setback for tech companies such as Uber, which have been greeted with animosity by black cab drivers in the U.K. capital. But it’s not over: Addison Lee has the opportunity to appeal the decision in British courts.

[via AP]

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