French taxi drivers have taken to the streets of Paris to protest UberPOP, the European equivalent of UberX, cutting off access to the city’s airports and attacking Uber drivers. TechCrunch reports that 2,800 cabbies are rallying nationwide in response to the ride-hailing app’s continued operation in France, even after the government allegedly banned UberPOP back in January.
The protesters in Paris tossed burning tires in major roads, overturned vehicles, and harassed Uber workers. Police donned riot gear and stepped in at one point with tear gas, according to Reuters. The taxi company G7 went so far as to say the following on national TV: “We are faced with permanent provocation (from Uber) to which there can only be one response: total firmness in the systematic seizure of offending vehicles. We are truly sorry to have to hold clients and drivers hostage. We’re not doing this lightly.”
Musician Courtney Love found herself at the mercy of incensed cabbies on her way from the airport, resulting in this string of tweets:
French taxi unions have long been riled up over UberPOP’s use of nonprofessional drivers, who have managed to skirt the steep licensing fees and insurance costs that regular cabbies have to bear. In their eyes, this stacks the cards against them and gives Uber an unfair competitive advantage. Bloomberg writes that Uber has drawn 1 million users across France over the past three years–and that taxi revenue has dropped by 30 to 40 percent in the past two years alone.
French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve ordered a shutdown of UberPOP on Thursday in response to the dissent, Reuters reports. “I have given instructions, considering the grave problems with public order and the development of this illegal activity, to the police prefecture in Paris to ban UberPop activities,” Cazeneuve told reporters, according to The Verge.
[via The Verge]