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Austrian taxi drivers protest against Uber

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Austrian taxi drivers protest against Uber
Photo: APA (dpa)
09:37 CEST+02:00
Vienna's taxi drivers held a protest on Tuesday in Mariahilferstrasse against the US online ride coordination service Uber, claiming it will damage their business.

"Basically, we have nothing against new intermediaries and competitors, but they must abide by the applicable rules of the game," said Gökhan Keskin, deputy chairman of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce taxi section.

Drivers have criticised the fact that Uber will apparently be allowed to operate without a business license, and at prices that are around 25 percent less than incumbent providers.
 
Keskin noted that the pricing model of the service was particularly annoying, as journey prices were agreed at the beginning of a journey, which he claimed was not permitted in Vienna.  Under existing taxi rules, there is a binding fixed tariff, which he claims Uber is undermining.
 
In Germany, Uber has had a temporary nation-wide ban imposed by the courts, as lawmakers assess the legality of the service.  Despite the ban, Uber still operates in Austria's larger neighbour, with wide popular support.

The social democratic trade association of Vienna (SWV) is collecting signatures to petition the Minister of Economic Affairs to enforce the rules relating to taxis with regards to the new player in the market.  Keskin says they aren't after a ban on the service - just enforcement of existing rules for all taxi services, to ensure fair competition.

Existing taxi drivers fear for their livelihood, although one driver said he hadn't noticed any decline in business until now.

John Wesemann, Uber's general manager stated that the two Uber services - Uber Black and Uber X - will continue to operate in Vienna despite the protests.  He said that his company would be happy to partner with any existing drivers, so that they could also benefit from the app.

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