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French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber 295

mrspoonsi writes Parisian taxi drivers have vowed to block roads leading into the French capital on Monday to protest a court's refusal to ban urban ridesharing service UberPOP. Like their counterparts in large cities across the globe, Parisian taxi drivers are fed up with what they see as unfair competition from Uber's popular smartphone taxi service. UberPOP, which uses non-professional drivers using their own cars to take on passengers at budget rates, has 160,000 users in France, according to the company. A commercial court in Paris ruled on Friday that a new law making it harder for Uber drivers to solicit business could not be enforced until the government had published full details of the restrictions. "It's the straw that breaks the camel's back," said Ibrahima Sylla, president of France Taxis, whose organisation has joined several others in calling for the early morning protest on Monday. They have urged taxi drivers to gather at the northern Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport and the southern Orly airport at 05:00 am before slowly converging on the city in a bid to block arterial highways. "This is a fight against Uber. We're fed up. Allowing UberPOP means leaving 57,000 French taxis high and dry, and thus 57,000 families. And that is out of the question," said Sylla.
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French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber

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  • So basically.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Sunday December 14, 2014 @04:39PM (#48595519)

    The taxi drivers are arguing that if they can't be the ONLY ones to drive people to their destination, then NOBODY can. And then they wonder why fewer people want to patronize them.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 14, 2014 @04:52PM (#48595577)

      I travel all over the world for business. As such, I take a lot of taxi rides each year. But it doesn't matter if I'm in NYC, London, Paris, Berlin, Toronto, LA, Sydney, Rome, Vancouver, Chicago, or even my home base of San Francisco. Regardless of where I am, taxis are an awful experience.

      Why is it that, in any major Western city, all of the taxi drivers are from the Middle East, India, or Pakistan? Why is it that they can't keep their vehicles clean? Why is it that they can't speak a fucking word of English? Why is it that they're always chattering on in Arabic, Hindi or Urdu through their mobile phone's earphones/mic, while driving? Why is it that they often don't have any frigging clue where they're going? Why is it that it always costs so goddamn much for such shitty service, especially when this industry is allegedly "regulated" in most areas?

      I don't like the idea of Uber, or Lyft, or any of those services. I don't want some untrained, possibly-uninsured hipster driving me around. But then I look at the alternatives, and these amateurs actually look pretty damn good compared to the so-called third-world "professional" taxi drivers!

      As a customer, I'm fucked either way. I'm guaranteed either shitty service when I go with a taxi, or I'm guaranteed a higher degree of risk when I go with some online service. I just can't win!

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 14, 2014 @05:24PM (#48595751)

        The taxi plates cost money. FUCKTONS of money.

        Therefore the people who buy them (invariably not the Middle-eastern/indian/pakistani drivers), are rich guys that can afford the plates.

        And in the immortal words of Bill Gates on the Simpsons, you don't get rich writing a lot of cheques. So those rich guys hire the cheapest hardest working people they can find. People that will work 12 hour back to back shifts, on the lowest rates possible, and thank you for it. (Thats the middle-eastern/indian/pakistani mindset, work a shit job but thank god you aren't unemployed, and be nice to the rich man because he is the one that pays you). It is what happens when you live in a country of a billion people, full of the worst poverty you have ever seen.
        If you have a job, you are fucking thankful, even if it is the worst job you could possibly imagine. It is better than living in a god damned junk yard looking for scrap metal.
        It is all in an effort to try to pay off the huge investment the rich white guys made in the plates. Minimum maintenance, maximum driving, minimum wage to drivers.
        You don't need a driver that can speak english, you need a driver that will drive the long way to maximise the "driving on the meter" ratio. You need a driver that will drive in the wrong direction as much as possible because they "don't speak english". And if they don't do these things, you fire them and get the next cheapest guy in the cab to do it for you.
        And, it turns out working an 18 hour overnight shift means you don't spend a lot of time with your family, so you have to call them while driving.

        • by Cochonou ( 576531 ) on Monday December 15, 2014 @03:56AM (#48598929) Homepage
          As we are talking about a strike in France, you may be interested to know that it really does not work like this in France. Actually, there are basically three different kinds of taxi drivers:
          - Drivers on a payroll (3%) - working for a company who bought the taxi plates. They are paid at a percentage of income.
          - Renters (11%) - they rent the car with a taxi plate. They keep all the income, but have to pay the rent of the car each month.
          - Independant workers (86%) - who bought a taxi plate (from 100 000 to 200 000 €). They keep all the income.
          So in France, most of the taxi drivers are independant workers who took out a loan to buy their plate - and intend to sell their plate at a high price when they retire.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Keruo ( 771880 )

        NYC, , Paris, Berlin, , LA, , Rome, , Chicago, San Francisco.

        Why is it that, in any major Western city,..that they can't speak a fucking word of English?

        I narrowed your list down but in most of the cities you list, English isn't actually the official language, it's spoken by convenience by majority of people, not because it's government mandated.

      • Immigrants, often on student visas, are the only ones willing to work for taxi companies on "shitty" pay?

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        I recently traveled around Europe, and Taxis were cheap in Italy and Germany, and expensive in France. Seems there are some large local cost differences. Uber would take off in Australia (expensive cabs), but I don't see them being able to cut into Singapore's, where I find them cheap.
        • >I don't see them being able to cut into Singapore's, where I find them cheap.

          How's the quality of taxis in Singapore? (I've only been through the airport.)

          In China taxis are dirt cheap, too. Sometimes, though, they pick you up at the airport (where one might expect you to have luggage) in a taxi that has its trunk occupied by a CNG tank instead of empty space where one might place luggage. And in general taxis are old, noisy, bumpy, and of poor quality, and most importantly, difficult to hail (although

          • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
            The cars are in good shape in Singapore. Hailing them is easy. I've never looked for more than a minute or two to hail one, or could call and wait 5 minutes.
      • Right, fuck those taxi drivers in Rome and Berlin and Paris who can't speak English! If they can't learn the language they should just go home!!!!

      • As such, I take a lot of taxi rides each year. But it doesn't matter if I'm in NYC, London, Paris, Berlin, Toronto, LA....

        Have you actually ever taken a cab in London? The problem is the exact opposite [londonist.com] of what you describe with only ~5% from minorities to the extent that they are trying to recruit more. As for "untrained hipster" they are required to pass The Knowledge [wikipedia.org] before they get a license. They may have somewhat colourful characters but I've never had one who is not extremely competent, knowledgeable and driving a clear, well repaired cab.

    • by Keruo ( 771880 )
      No, the taxi drivers are arguing they can be the only ones to drive people to their destination and charge them for the ride.
      • The taxi drivers feel like they own the customers. Not the whole customer, mind you (that'd be slavery). Just a little piece.
      • Yet on money, only Uber drivers will be doing that....

      • No, the taxi drivers are arguing they can be the only ones to drive people to their destination and charge them for the ride.

        Which is still wrong.
        This right here is a perfect example of what's wrong with government regulation. If you regulate an industry, that industry will, understandably, use that regulation to their advantage. They get the government to institute regulation that prevents anyone from competing and the industry becomes a closed system with no outside competition and new ideas die before they even have a chance. There's arguably benefits to this as well, you know exactly what to expect when you get in a cab... th

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Keruo ( 771880 )
          I have this great APP!
          It allows everyone to be a doctor and you can order an operation with simple click of a button and even pay for the surgery with it!
          Who cares if that person is certified doctor, that's just bad government regulation! BOO!

          The problem I see with Uber is taxes and fees. As the financial side is completely handled via the app, how can I be sure that the company running Uber actually covers the mandatory employee fees for the driver and pays the taxes required by the local government?
          • How can you be sure that the taxi company (or any other business you patronize) properly pays its employees and taxes? You can't.

            If you're worried about skills, require a commercial driver's license. Problem solved.
          • by sjames ( 1099 )

            If a bad surgeon was no more likely to cause injury or death than a bad driver, then yes, it might be OK.

            As for the taxes and fees, that's between Uber, the driver, and the local government. Not my problem.

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )

          But in reality, the regulation is there to prevent the unsuspecting of getting ripped off. In the case of Uber and services like it, the people using that service know exactly what they are getting into. Grandma isn't going to fire up uber and get ripped off.

          From the horror stories I've seen linked to on Slashdot, she is. Uber has an unknown and undisclosed surcharge for special times (New Years being the most common in the horror stories). So Grandma might sign up for a $5 ride home. Authorize a $5 ride, and get charged $150 for it. Some of the horror stories outline the driver's take. About $2 more for a $150 fee, with Uber being the only one to benefit from these surcharge. I can't confirm any of those reports, but from the number and locations of the

          • Can't speak to the early days of Uber, but I took it in SF last year and the surge pricing was very much apparent before you booked the ride. You can even get estimates prior to booking. Never went over the high end of the estimate. Drivers all seemed happy with the service as well - we asked. And they mostly spoke flawless English. That was Uber Black, the higher tier of service, but it ended up costing maybe 10% more than a regular cab on average. You did pay more at rush hour, but on the other hand, you
      • Re:So basically.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by JBMcB ( 73720 ) on Sunday December 14, 2014 @05:29PM (#48595783)

        No, the taxi drivers are arguing they can be the only ones to drive people to their destination and charge them for the ride.

        Not quite. In Detroit a church started running a free van to help people who couldn't afford a car. The free bus was shut down by the taxi commission. Taxi commissions, in general, are against anyone giving anyone else a ride who isn't a taxi driver.

        • by jd2112 ( 1535857 )

          No, the taxi drivers are arguing they can be the only ones to drive people to their destination and charge them for the ride.

          Not quite. In Detroit a church started running a free van to help people who couldn't afford a car. The free bus was shut down by the taxi commission. Taxi commissions, in general, are against anyone giving anyone else a ride who isn't a taxi driver.

          Don't pick up hitchhikers. The Taxi commission will come after you.

          • by mark-t ( 151149 )

            Worse, on the surface it would appear to even be opposed to driving your kids to school on your way to work instead of forcing them to take a taxi or at least public transit.

            Think of the children!

            Yeah. I went there. :)

      • No, the taxi drivers are arguing they can be the only ones to drive people to their destination and charge them for the ride.

        Yeah, and it probably has nothing to do with this [nycitycab.com].

        If you don't want to follow the link, it is NYC Taxi drivers selling their medallions to operate a taxi for close to a million dollars. It seems to be around 300,000 Euro for one in Paris.

    • No.

      They are arguing that Uber needs to play by the same rules as the taxi drivers.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday December 14, 2014 @04:40PM (#48595531)

    How will we know the difference between their protest and normal traffic?

    • by romiz ( 757548 )
      Well, one can expect the measurements of traffic to be higher than usual. It is possible to check the stats for the current day [sytadin.fr], but I do not know where to find the measurements for the other days.
  • I believe a blockade of Euro Disney is the standard French response to any turmoil in the country.

    • I believe a blockade of Euro Disney is the standard French response to any turmoil in the country.

      You could remove 'Euro Disney' (in general or from your sentence) and it would still be true. The blocades are part of the French charm, possibly the part that makes you not want to live there.

  • Ah, yes... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Annoy everybody, including the people who would be using your services, in "protest". What a GREAT idea!

    • Re:Ah, yes... (Score:4, Informative)

      by Megol ( 3135005 ) on Sunday December 14, 2014 @04:58PM (#48595607)

      That seems to be the standard type of protest in France. It's a popular pastime among the French farmers to block roads with manure as one example.

      Don't get me wrong - some things should be protested - but some thinking about _how_ to protest could lead to better results for everyone...

  • Win hearts and minds (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Sunday December 14, 2014 @04:53PM (#48595585) Homepage

    Oh, yes, causing massive traffic snarls is a sure way to with the hearts and minds of the public. Reminds me of the German train drivers who keep striking, not for more money or better working conditions, but because their union bosses are at risk of losing their negotiating power to a larger union. Makes everybody in German just love the train drivers.

    Paris taxis charge to just come and pick you up. Get in the car, and find that the meter has already been running from wherever the driver let off his last fare. Given a new competitor, the taxi drivers could always compete by offering better service, or lower rates, or more reliability, or... Nah.

    • Oh, yes, causing massive traffic snarls is a sure way to with the hearts and minds of the public.

      Whether you're sympathetic or not, this is an act of civil disobedience to protest what they consider to be a mortal threat to their livelihood. Civil disobedience has never been about getting people to like you; it's about getting in the public's collective face to the point where you can't be ignored.

      • But why draw more attention to yourself if it's only going to make people think worse of you?

        There are ways to approach this that can open a dialogue and help society come to terms with the issue in a way that's reasonable for all parties involved. This approach is not the way towards achieving those goals.
    • by swell ( 195815 ) <jabberwock AT poetic DOT com> on Sunday December 14, 2014 @11:34PM (#48597747)

      Please stop confusing 'taxi drivers' and 'taxi companies'.

      Drivers work their ass off for less than minimum wage, and many have families to support. They put in long hours on dangerous roads and face passengers even more unpleasant than you. It is one of the most unpleasant jobs on the planet, but it's all that these people can get.

      Taxi companies own the formerly lucrative and exclusive rights to operate the service in their community. These can be very wealthy investors. They allow drivers to lease cabs from them at exorbitant rates to recoup their investment.

      Uber and the like pop up and disrupt this balance. Taxi drivers lose fares, can't make their lease payment, can't feed their family. Taxi owners lose the huge investment that the government assured would give them exclusive rights. Uber has no social responsibility, no community presence, no loyalty to government, citizens or their own drivers & passengers. They are a parasite and they are destroying the only job available to many taxi drivers.

  • what would happen if the cab drivers would also act as Uber drivers?
    If you can't fight them, embrace them.
    Haven't seen this anywhere yet.

    • In chicago and other large cities in the US they do. When I open my uber app, I have the ability to choose from uberx, taxi, black cars and SUVs. I don't understand why they just don't do the same in other places as well.

    • what would happen if the cab drivers would also act as Uber drivers?
      If you can't fight them, embrace them.
      Haven't seen this anywhere yet.

      1. They could not charge as much as they used to. as a regulated taxi.

      2. The taxi company would fire them if they found out they also drove for Uber/Lyft.

      3. Having been forced to charge less, they'd have to work longer and compete for customers.

      4. Being that Uber/Lyft have ways for customers to send feedback to report bad drivers/performance/cleanliness and hold drivers responsible, the former taxi drivers would have to actually put in effort to make the ride safe, comfortable, pleasant, punctual, and conve

      • That would be different based on the city and state (US)

        A friend drove a cab for years and around here that is not how it works. The cab company rents the cabs to the drivers at a set amount per day. The driver can accept jobs that come in across the computer but there will be a small handling charge that is built into the price per mile printed on the side of the cab and used in the meter. If they pick up some one who flags them down or some one who calls their Cell and requests a pickup then there is no

        • That would be different based on the city and state (US)

          A friend drove a cab for years and around here that is not how it works. The cab company rents the cabs to the drivers at a set amount per day. The driver can accept jobs that come in across the computer but there will be a small handling charge that is built into the price per mile printed on the side of the cab and used in the meter. If they pick up some one who flags them down or some one who calls their Cell and requests a pickup then there is no handling charge.

          The friend of mine that did it treated it like a small business. He had cards made with his cell on them and kept his car immaculately clean. After the first year 90% of his calls were from customers and word of mouth. He would also give discounts to his regulars. Really the discounts were nothing more than him deducting the handling fee from the printed cost.

          I don't know enough of the facts & details of the particular situation you describe, but just from your description, that's not too bad. Especially if the driver rents the cabs and pays no maintenance, insurance, tags, etc etc.

          Sadly though, that's not typical in many urban/suburban areas with denser populations (where taxis are needed most) in the US. Most often, you see some sort of local taxi commission that's usually corrupt "regulating" a small number of taxi operations, sometimes just one.

          NY's syst

        • by gnupun ( 752725 )

          Why couldn't he have saved $5-6000 working other jobs to buy a used car to use as a cab instead of this renting his cab from a company? Then he could've kept 100% of his earnings, and the fares would also be a lot lower for the consumers.

          • Why couldn't he have saved $5-6000 working other jobs to buy a used car to use as a cab instead of this renting his cab from a company? Then he could've kept 100% of his earnings, and the fares would also be a lot lower for the consumers.

            It's quite possible that even barring any laws or regulations restricting/forbidding such a move, the cost of renting a taxi might well be a net savings over footing all the costs of ownership & operation as an individual due to things like group rates for liability insurance and fleet maintenance contract cost savings over costs for individual trips to the local auto mechanic's garage, etc.

            Strat

    • by Soft ( 266615 )

      what would happen if the cab drivers would also act as Uber drivers?

      They'd lose their taxi license / medallion, which they may have invested over 200,000 euros in, depending on where they operate. The license price is dropping, though, with the arrival of Uber and similar services.

      That's the basic problem: the government used to enforce a license scarcity that drove prices so high that taxi drivers now consider it an investment or a retirement package. It's very like a housing price crash, except that t

  • Allowing UberPOP means leaving 57,000 French taxis high and dry, and thus 57,000 families.

    ... 57,000 potential experienced UberPOP drivers. Sure they might have to give up some pay or benefits, but < insert French WWII surrender joke here >

  • by Amigo Van Helical ( 1885764 ) on Sunday December 14, 2014 @05:04PM (#48595641) Homepage

    I've never driven a cab for a living but I've spoken w/ cabbies about it, and it's not an easy job. A good cab driver knows the turf. S/he gets you to your destination safely and efficiently... and doesn't rip you off or make you feel creeped out. Over time, failure to meet these criteria has resulted in licensing and regulation. The licensing requirements also provide a barrier to entry. So "official" cab services have evolved an ecosystem of sorts. And a skilled, hard-working driver can make decent, but not great, money. Here's a Huffington Post article that asserts some numbers for both Uber and traditional cabbies:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... [huffingtonpost.com]

    Now along comes Uber. Cool business model. Flexible price structure. Apps that get a ride to where you are when you need it. Disruptive to the old order. If you know what you're doing, you can use Uber to get around conveniently. If I understand it right, the Uber system addresses, using the clout of the company, some of the good cab requirements (e.g. they'll monitor their drivers).

    But Uber disrupts an existing ecosystem... a system that lots of licensed, chartered drivers depend on for their livelihoods. While tech types typically revel in so-called "disruptive technologies," I worry that Uber spells the demise of yet another low tech job. I mean, shouldn't there be something between fast food workers and cube dwellers? So I can see both sides of this. There's not a simple answer to the problem.

    • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Sunday December 14, 2014 @05:49PM (#48595917) Journal
      I drove a cab in Australia for 3yrs, it's not the worst job I've had but it's certainly the worst paid job, think fruit picking money. Most cabbies don't own the cab or the plates (medallion). The cab owners are the ones who are understandably getting upset since if uber is legal the plates they paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for suddenly become worthless.

      Uber drivers are desperate for work and silly enough to run their own car into the ground for little more than petrol money, when it's dead they can't afford a new one and walk away in a worse situation than they started. Courier companies do the same thing here in Melbourne, they call you a "sub-contractor" get you to stick a "courier" sign on your own car then you drive it at your own expense until it falls apart. And if you're unlucky enough to fuck up without the right insurance, you will be paying for it the rest of your life.

      From my experience with real cabs, sticking with a regulated taxi industry is the best thing any of us can do to stop uber exploiting desperate people in a race to the bottom.
    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      None of your first arguments are true for most cabbies. I worry about getting robbed by the drivers just looking at some taxis in my town, the only thing that makes a taxi a taxi is a tag and a light on the roof. A rusted 1970s Chevy that looks like it could break down anytime and a murky looking non-English speaking guy trying to convince me to take a ride in his car?

      And who do you complain to when your cabbie rips you off? The taxi company doesn't care. Hired a taxi once in Miami, prepaid days in advance

      • You seem to be saying that most cab drivers are scary and/or dishonest. Is that really your assertion? Most cabbies? I admit that on a few occasions, I've had negative experiences w/ cab drivers – but only a few. By far, my experiences w/ (let's call them) "conventional" cab services have been just fine.

        Uber's crowd source model won't eliminate the possibility of encountering an incompetent, scary, or dishonest driver. And imagine Uber becomes wildly successful. It's only my opinion, but I suspe

  • ... a prison sentence. It is one thing to express your opinion. It another to attack other people and physically restrain them from doing what they have every right to do.

    What is more, these cabbies should have their licenses threatened. A cab license is not a right.

    • by mysidia ( 191772 )

      What is more, these cabbies should have their licenses threatened. A cab license is not a right.

      Yes.... being a taxi gives you no right to obstruct usage of the roadways.

      They should dispatch police to detain the offenders, and tow trucks to seize all the vehicles involved and impound them for at least 15 days.

      Furthermore, their taxi license and their driver's license should be suspended until they pay costs of towing, storage, and a $1000 fine.

  • by Kaenneth ( 82978 ) on Sunday December 14, 2014 @07:13PM (#48596473) Homepage Journal

    When Google provides self driving taxis for free, but with a big screen showing commercials in the passenger compartment.

    Driving jobs will mostly disappear before you know it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yes, but then after a year, the Google free taxis will disappear entirely with nothing from Google to replace them.

  • is it cheaper? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LostMyBeaver ( 1226054 ) on Sunday December 14, 2014 @08:10PM (#48596747)
    Here in Oslo, I really looked forward to Uber. Now that it is here, it costs a minimum of $20 more than any taxi company I compare it to.

    Is it different elsewhere?
  • by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Sunday December 14, 2014 @08:44PM (#48596895)
    Do you know that the number of cab drivers in Paris hasn't changed since WWII? It's always been around 57000. So it's very hard to get a taxi in certain regions and at certain times. So the fucking cubbies should shut up.
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr@ m a c . com> on Sunday December 14, 2014 @08:57PM (#48596947) Journal

    Uber exists because cabs suck.

    Customers aren't property. If cabbies want fares, they should start behaving like it.

    -jcr

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