After recent bans in Brussels, Seoul and Hamburg, the German federal capital Berlin also decided to ban the Uber app for booking private hire vehicles (‘Mietwagen’) and for booking private vehicles and their drivers (UberPOP).
According to the local regulator, the app is contrary to the Passenger Transport Act and any infringement carries a fine of 25.000 euros. The injunction is not yet final (like in Hamburg, which suspended the ban pending legal procedures).
The Berlin regulator particularly wants to protect passengers using UberPOP’s unlicensed drivers and vehicles. In these cases drivers face a fine of 20.000 euros. Taxi Times recently revealed that passengers are not covered by these operators’ private car insurance. One operator, working for Wundercar, a similar operation to UberPOP, had his insurance cancelled when the insurer found out the car was being used as a private taxi. Berlin’s regulator also wants to protect the Uber-drivers and the local taxi industry.
Uber has announced it will appeal and complains about ‘restricting the freedom of mobility in and around Berlin’:“The decision of the Berlin authorities is anything but progressive”, an Uber speaker told the Berlin Morgenpost newspaper, complaining about Berlin’s decision: “You curtail the choice of consumers. As a new entrant, we introduce competition in the market which has not had any for years.”
The taxi industry, which in Berlin, like in many European cities, took to the streets in protest on June 11, sees services like Uber and Wundercar – much cheaper than taxis – as illegal competition and a threat to their existence. The taxi industry insists that „as a public means of transport, the taxi is subject to strict rules and regulations.“
Berlin saw an impressive demonstration of a 1.000 taxi drivers, whilst in an unfortunate move that same day Berlin’s Mayor, Klaus Wowereit, visited Uber’s new HQ, wearing an ‘I love Uber’ hat and sunglasses.