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Transportation Businesses Government

Berlin Bans Car Service Uber 341

An anonymous reader is just one of many who have pointed out that things don't look good for Uber in Berlin. Berlin has banned car service Uber, which allows users to summon a ride on their smartphone, for not offering drivers and vehicles licensed to carry passengers, or full insurance cover, the German capital said. The ban takes immediate effect and Uber risks fines of up to 25,000 euros each time it violates the city's Public Transport Act, Berlin authorities said in a statement. Uber said on Thursday it would appeal against the decision, accusing Berlin of denying its people choice and mobility. "As a new entrant we are bringing much-needed competition to a market that hasn't changed in years. Competition is good for everyone and it raises the bar and ultimately it's the consumer who wins," said Fabien Nestmann, German General Manager at Uber. Undaunted by the setback in Berlin, Uber has launched uberTAXI in Hong Kong.
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Berlin Bans Car Service Uber

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  • by angel'o'sphere ( 80593 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @10:21PM (#47675079) Journal

    accusing Berlin of denying its people choice and mobility. "As a new entrant we are bringing much-needed competition to a market that hasn't changed in years. Competition is good for everyone and it raises the bar and ultimately it's the consumer who wins,"
    There is a law. German wide. Which says: to transport people commercially you need a "commercial transport license". Just like a pilot with a PPL may not commercially transport persons but needs a commercial transport license. Heck, even if you drive a mini bus with more than 7 passengers _privately_ you need a "personell transport license".

    This is not an "anti Uber law", this is law valid for every citizen or corporation.

    Trying to make a law suit against current valid law is just idiotic. Try to change the law instead, well if you can.

    If Uber wants to do business they should "hire" 'professional drivers' who have the same professional education other 'cap' or 'bus' drivers have.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2014 @10:34PM (#47675121)

    Uber is often seen as a hipster phenomenon. While it may be a service that is potentially useful to others, it has so far been popularized and hyped by the hipster segment of the population, and is most commonly associated with hipsters.

    Average people, as a general rule, do not like hipsters. To everday people, the hipsters come off as very obnoxious, rude, and quite annoying. Hipsters go out of their way to project a "holier-than-thou" attitude, and other people notice and dislike this.

    Nobody likes going into a shop, for instance, and then having to deal with the smug, snobby hipsters who work there. Normal people dislike asking a simple question about where to find a product, and getting a rant about social justice or something similar in return, from somebody who dresses solely to look weird and who may very well be wearing glasses without any lenses. All they wanted to know was what aisle to look in!

    When people think "Uber", they think "hipster", which immediately brings up these negative connotations. Rightly or wrongly, this (unintentional?) association with hipsters reflects badly on Uber. People are repulsted by hipsters and anything related to hipsters, which unfortunately includes Uber at this time.

    If they want to gain widespread acceptance, Uber seriously needs to break this assocation that people have between them and hipsters. People need to think things like convenience, affordability and good service when they hear the name "Uber", rather than thinking of hipsters and the rottenness that hipsters bring.

  • by binarylarry ( 1338699 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @10:34PM (#47675123)

    Hahaha, you make it sound as if "being licensed" has some implication of advanced skill.

    The govt in this case doesn't care about that, they want their licensing money back.

  • by bayankaran ( 446245 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @10:41PM (#47675149) Homepage

    The govt in this case doesn't care about that, they want their licensing money back.

    You are right. But then without tax and revenue from licensing how will the government function?
    We can always argue whether a specific regulation is needed or not, but are you are using the usual "small government", "starve the beast" idea?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2014 @10:41PM (#47675153)

    These guys seem to be copping a whole lot of shit just for trying to make transport easier for users.

    No, these guys are copping a whole lot of shit for trying to offer no-standards transport in nations that have minimum standards for their public transport services.

    It's not good enough to be cheap in Europe if you don't meet basic standards. The EU has a lot of consumer protection laws designed to look after their residents (now there's a thought), a concept that is completely foreign in the US where it seems that only company profits matter.

    If you want to do business in Europe, you don't have any magic right to ignore European legislation and import the US rulebook instead.

  • by fred911 ( 83970 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @10:45PM (#47675169)

    ". Is it wrong for the people of a sovereign state to have rules?"
      No, it's just wrong for a public utility to use legislation to eliminate competition (thereby lowering the quality of service) instead of raising their level and competing on the same field of play.

  • by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @10:47PM (#47675177) Homepage

    I don't know why Uber is complaining. All they need to do, after all, is to recruit drivers with a commercial license; require the vehicles to comply to commercial safety standards; and provide the needed insurance. It's not as if the deck is stacked against them - the other services they compete against all follow the same rules.

    For my part as a potential user, liability is the real issue. I would never risk taking a car service where I'm not fully covered in the case of an accident. It's not just medical and other costs for myself; if the driver is not licensed you, as the one paying for the ride, may be regarded as co-responsible if your driver caused the accident in the first place. You want to risk hundreds of thousands of Euro in damages to save a few bucks on a taxi ride?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2014 @10:51PM (#47675187)

    I don't see words like "skill", "competence", or "quality" in the GP's comment. So how the fuck is it making the implication that you've incorrectly claimed it's making? Oh, that's right, it isn't. Did you even read that goddamn comment before you replied to it?

    The motivation behind such regulation is irrelevant. Maybe it's about quality. Maybe it's about money. Maybe it's about both. It doesn't fucking matter. What does matter is that the regulations exist, they're enforced against everybody, and if you're going to involve yourself or your business in such activities then you're going to have to abide by such regulations.

    Please don't pollute our discussion with your bullshit about "implications" that obviously aren't even being made. If you can't handle the mature, intelligent, adult discussion we're engaging in here, then please drag your sorry ass back to reddit.

  • by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Thursday August 14, 2014 @11:10PM (#47675263)

    No, they haven't. If Uber was willing to themselves shoulder any liability, that would be one thing. But they claim that individual drivers are responsible for any liability that may arise in an accident, and that Uber is not responsible. Of course, conveniently enough, the average driver nowhere near enough assets to pay out any liability claim in the case where they caused an accident. That is precisely why insurance is required.

  • It's the law. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Thursday August 14, 2014 @11:14PM (#47675283) Homepage

    It's just taxi lobbyists pushing back...

    It has nothing to do with lobbies, or taxis reacting to Uber.

    It's simply the law, and this law is much older than Uber itself.
    It has always been there and still needs to be applied, even after Uber appears.
    (Some other countries like Switzerland have similair laws).

    If you transport people professionally (no mater if you're some minister's chauffeur, a taxi driver, working as a bus driver in the public transportation service, or simply driving a minivan with more than 7 passengers) the law requires that you have a special driving license and insurance companies require that you subscribe a different type of insurance policy (insurance is mandatory in EU).
    Uber is note immune to the law. People get money to carry people around with Uber, they must therefore follow the state law.

    This is not taxi drivers protesting against Uber because it's competing with them, it's simply the city ruling that Uber needs to play by the same rule like everybody else.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 14, 2014 @11:55PM (#47675421)

    Why's the parent modded down? It's 100% correct, even if some Hipsters don't like to face the truth. That's just like Hipsters, too. When faced with a reality they don't like, they just resort to censorship. Maybe it works like that at Reddit or Hacker News, but it shouldn't work like that here!

  • by ZaphodHarkonnen ( 962799 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:10AM (#47675473)
    They can consider themselves a sovereign state for all that means. Uber provides a commercial transport service even if they're simply contracting out the actual transport to someone else. So it should be up to them to make sure that the drivers they use meet the regulations of the country. Nothing here is saying that Uber cannot provide transport services. Just that they need to provide them under existing regulations. Now if they do not wish to do this they have two paths of recourse. Either not enter the market, or lobby for a law change.
  • by Noah Haders ( 3621429 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @12:57AM (#47675579)
    No need to cite anything. They're unregulated by govt and unions so they must be crazy cracked-out beasts. Or so the govt and unions would have you believe.
  • by moronoxyd ( 1000371 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:26AM (#47675657)

    Bull. As a citizen of Berlin I'm very happy that the government regulates people working in the transport business.
    I don't want to be driven in a bus or car that doesn't conform to safety regulations or by a driver that has been working so many hours that he is sleepy or otherwise not able to safely bring me from A to B.

    And if Uber and Lyft ignore the regulations already in place then they have no business doing business.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:29AM (#47675673)

    This. IN europe taxis have insurance that actually covers damages to the passengers. Normal car insurances don't cover the use for commercial usage. The very basic level for consumers is _FORCED_ on everyone, because we, as people, rather hae a private company and the users of said taxi services pay for the injuries etc instead of paying for them collectively. (we are not going to leave anyone untreated, even if they have no personal insurance, therefore public transport pays a premiun insurance, because they are responsible for the passengers while they are on board). Nothing wrong with this. I support if fully. That said, I also like uber. Just offer the minimum quality level required and keep going. Can't just ignore laws. These are even very rational laws.

  • by moronoxyd ( 1000371 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @01:38AM (#47675703)

    I can't say how things are done in other countries, but I would assume that just like in the US the company follows the laws of that land.

    Except that the regulatory body here in Berlin responsible for public transport says they don't.

  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:11AM (#47675775) Homepage

    A hipster is somebody who would suddenly get a different taste if (and because) you'd like their taste.
    They are people who so desperately want to be seen as different that they end up all being the same.

    It's like how children want to be adults, but adults don't care about being adult.
    Hipsters want to be interresting, but interresting people don't care about being interresting.

  • by mjwx ( 966435 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @02:21AM (#47675801)

    The driver in that case (who should be in jail) ran over the girl not because he was an Uber driver, BUT just because he was a negligent driver on the road at the time.

    this is bullshit.

    Bolding parts of it doesn't make is less bullshit.

    Liability insurance for commercial drivers is mandatory in most places for this very reason. Further more in many places third party injury insurance is mandatory for all drivers for this very reason.

    Maybe you in your libertarian delusions can go and explain to family of the girl who died because of this driver that it's a fact of life and they should be happy for that.

    Furthemore INSURANCE WOULD NOT HELP, even if he had it. The girl is dead, period, full stop. There is no insurance payout here.

    Actually there is a very big payout for death.

    But what about the next time when a person isn't killed, just permanently disabled. You could go along then and explain it's a fact of life.

    Or maybe the drivers could get liability insurance seeing as they're using their cars for commercial purposes. Then again, that would mean their services wouldn't be cheaper than a regular taxi.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 15, 2014 @03:00AM (#47675871)
    So, what did YOU do? And to be fair: what did anyone here do to achieve what you said?
    Just being born into US or some European country citizenship doesn't entitle you to anything.
    You like the USA? Guess from where those founder fathers came. You like democracy? You should thank the Greeks. You like logic, as it is used in philosophy and the sciences? You should thank the Greeks, although the native cultures in middle and south America invented very similar concepts. You like your pretty fireworks on the 4th of July? You should thank the Chinese. You like your combustion engines? You should thank the Germans. You like your space program that put a man on the moon? Then you should also thank the ancient Chinese and nazi Germany scientists that invented the liquid fuel rocket. You like modern, digital microelectronics? You should thank a Albert Einstein, a German Jew. His Nobel Prize winning paper about the inner photoelectric effect laid the foundation for the development of lasers, which are used in the photolithography process since the 80s.
    If you actually look at history then you will see that there were brilliant inventors all over the world, none if which are YOU or I. It just happens that the rest of the world is older than the USA and therefore had more time to make "history". Native Americans had their accomplishments as well. But apparently a lot of those cultures didn't regard record keeping in a similar way as the "old world", where history was rewritten by the victor as well.

    Why can't we stop with the penis fencing, which don't even belong to us, and break it down to the underlying issue. Just like the US is allowed to make their own laws so are other nations. And if you want to do business with them you have to play according to their rules.
  • by mvdwege ( 243851 ) <> on Friday August 15, 2014 @03:25AM (#47675925) Homepage Journal

    Hahaha, you make it sound as if "being licensed" has some implication of advanced skill.

    In Germany? You bet it does.

    I wish people would stop projecting American incompetence at running government services on the rest of the world.

  • by Frankie70 ( 803801 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @03:38AM (#47675965)

    > In Germany, insurance that covers passengers is mandatory for anyone driving a car.

    Does the regular insuance cover the case where the car is used for commercial purposes as a taxi & the passenger is a paying passenger?

  • by Phoeniyx ( 2751919 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @04:44AM (#47676083)
    "I don't want to be driven in a bus or car that doesn't conform to safety regulations or by a driver that has been working so many hours that he is sleepy or otherwise not able to safely bring me from A to B." Well, then don't use Uber. But there is enough people who WILL want to use Uber. This is not one of those things where you need to "compromise" so that some people are disadvantaged SO THAT another group may be disadvantaged. This is simply about eliminating choice where the two systems (regulated taxi drivers and uber type system) can easily co-exist. People like you can overpay for your taxis and people like me can use Uber (and voluntarily be exposed to drivers that don't conform to safety regulations and may fall asleep).
  • by qbast ( 1265706 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @05:16AM (#47676133)
    Have you actually been to Thailand or you are just spouting prejudice? Official taxis there (especially in Bangkok) are great - clean, working AC, _very_ cheap (on meter with official rate).
  • by qbast ( 1265706 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @06:18AM (#47676295)

    So what you are saying is that if the vehicle is clean, has a working AC, and is very cheap.. then its 100% certain to be an official taxi?

    Pretty much yes. Official taxis charge regulated, metered rate, which ends up being very cheap. 'Private' taxi drivers live off ignorant tourists that don't even know they are getting fleeced unless driver gets really greedy and charges something like 5x rate.

    Have you actually learned to read, or are you just spouting Statist defenses?

    Grow up kid and maybe visit the place before you start spouting off crap and make an idiot of yourself.

  • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Friday August 15, 2014 @07:10AM (#47676423)

    This is not one of those things where you need to "compromise" so that some people are disadvantaged SO THAT another group may be disadvantaged.

    Unless you're the person in the lane next to the Uber car when its high-mileage, improperly-maintained components break, or the person crossing the road in front when the Uber driver falls asleep, and then you get to be in the accident too.

    Regulations on commercial drivers exist for a reason, and it's not just for the benefit of the passengers inside a commercial vehicle.

    Providing an alternative that is competitive merely by virtue of not following the same rules as everyone else isn't an improvement. Compete on the same basis as everyone else, and then if your service is otherwise better you can enjoy all the well-deserved support you like. Otherwise, you should expect regulators to close you down.

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire