UberPop Car Service to Be Banned in France, Ministry Says

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France plans to ban Uber Technologies Inc.’s UberPop car service, three days after a Paris judge rejected a bid to block the smartphone application that lets users get rides with private cars.

“We are banning the service where someone can be a driver while not having the training, the background checks and basic requirements,” Pierre-Henry Brandet, an Interior Ministry spokesman, said in a telephone interview today. “Car-sharing is allowed but not this service.” The ban will take effect on Jan. 1, he said.

Governments are stepping up regulation of Uber, a service that has angered licensed taxi drivers who say it’s unfair competition. The startup was sued last week by the district attorneys of Los Angeles and San Francisco over claims it makes false assurances about drivers’ background checks. That followed a ban in Spain, while Rio de Janeiro declared the service illegal and the Netherlands halted its ride-sharing offer.

Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s general manager for western Europe, said the matter ultimately will be settled in court.

“It’s up to a judge to decide whether or not to ban UberPop, not to the Interior Ministry,” he said in a telephone interview. “The commercial court decided last Friday not to ban UberPop, so one must put things in context. It’s still far from being over.”

Union Action

The Interior Ministry’s announcement comes on the day that three Parisian taxi unions had planned a demonstration to include blocking the ring highway around the capital and slowing down traffic to and from Paris international airports of Roissy and Orly to protest against San Francisco-based Uber.

Taxi drivers also gathered at Vauban square near the Interior Ministry in Paris to ask for a meeting with a government representative.

“Had we known that UberPop would be banned on Jan. 1, we’d not have organized the strike” after the court ruling last week, Abdelkader Morghad, a representative of the FTI taxi union, said by phone. The strike wasn’t followed by the national unions and there’s no plan to extend it tomorrow, he said.

Uber’s other services, including the more expensive UberX, whose drivers are required to have a permit, weren’t at risk in the Paris court decision last week. There’s no question of banning Uber entirely in France, Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron has said.

Uber says it has 500,000 regular users in France. Paris was the first European city in which Uber introduced its service.

A Paris court fined Uber 100,000 euros ($124,000) this year for labeling UberPop as carpooling, a decision the company contested. Veolia Transdev SA, which owns some taxi activities, is among rivals that have taken the battle against UberPop to the commercial court in the French capital.

Uber uses so-called surge pricing, where fares increase along with demand. The policy sparked complaints today when the price increased in Sydney for people leaving the Central Business District, where a gunman had taken hostages. The company said in a blog post that the higher fares would encourage more drivers to pick up passengers. Uber later said rides out of the business district were free to help people get home safely.