Taxi drivers blocked centre of Bratislava in protest against Uber

SEVERAL dozen taxi drivers drove through the centre of Bratislava on Monday afternoon to express their discontent with the activities of the American company Uber as well as with the lack of fixed prices for taxi services and the presence of illegal work in the sector.

(Source: TASR)

Taxi drivers in Bratislava perceive Uber’s business activities as at odds with relevant laws.

“[The company] signs contracts with drivers who lack appropriate qualifications, do not possess a [taxi driver’s] licence and drive unmarked cars,” Ondrej Wenzl, chairman of the Bratislava Taxi Union, said as cited by the TASR newswire. “Why ordinary taxi drivers have to meet all legally prescribed conditions – including psychological tests, medical exams, technical and emission inspections, and examination of their taximeters before being able to drive a taxi – but Uber’s drivers needn’t?”.

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Uber earlier conceded that not all of its drivers meet all legal conditions, but the company is striving to fix this soon.

“Can you begin driving before obtaining a driving licence? Certainly not,” commented Wenzl, adding that Uber creates scope for tax evasion, black market work and also represents a risk for its customers.

A taxi driver who introduced himself only as Gabriel stated that the situation in the sector is unbearable.

“The prices of taxi services in Bratislava are well-nigh lower than public transport fares,” he said.

During the protest ride the taxis blocked several streets in the centre of Bratislava, with public transport unable to operate in Hodžovo Námestie square in front of the Presidential Palace, Palisády, Staromestská and Štefánikova streets between 15:30 and 15:50, reported the Bratislava City Transport Company (DPB). Public transport in the city was fully restored as of 16:00.

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Uber, a San Francisco-based company, operates the Uber mobile app, which allows consumers with smartphones to submit a trip request which is then routed to Uber drivers who use their own cars. The legality of Uber has been challenged by governments and taxi companies in several countries.

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