The anti-innovation, anti-competition war against Uber taxis: Parisian edition
posted at 7:01 pm on January 4, 2014 by Erika Johnsen
I’ve previously regaled you with the trials and tribulations through which Uber taxi — the innovative, efficient, consumer-friendly, and tech-savvy cab company that allows you to hail, track, and pay for a taxi through a single smartphone app — is continuing to fight the good free-enterprise fight in blue-leaning cities throughout the country, but their entrepreneurial expansion is encountering similar and entirely predictable obstacles in taking this thing international.
It is apparently a secret only to the ruling Socialists that France’s high-tax, high-regulation, debt-burdened, labor-law heavy economic infrastructure is retarding the incentives that lead to creative destruction and economic growth, and much like in New York City and Washington, D.C., France allows plenty of recourse for entrenched special interests to rent-seek and use the bureaucracy to thwart their would-be competitors. Uber taxi and several similar French-based companies have lately been posing exactly such a free-market challenge to the established businesses there, who used their political clout to force through a rule that would actually force Uber drivers, et al, to wait a full and completely arbitrary fifteen minutes before picking up passengers who hail a car through their smartphone. Unbelievable.
Fortunately, and much like in blue American cities, Uber and friends are challenging the new French regulation, via the WSJ:
California-based Uber and French competitors including Chauffeur-Prive.com and Allocab.com said Monday that they are planning an appeal to France’s Conseil d’Etat, the country’s highest administrative court, to block the new French decree on competition grounds soon after it goes into effect on Jan. 1.
Under the new rule, all car services—but not licensed taxis—must wait “at least 15 minutes” between taking a reservation and picking up a passenger, more than double what car services like Uber say is their normal wait time. The only exception: pickups at four- and five-star hotels and at industry expos.
“It’s an effort by the government to slow down innovation to preserve the interests of traditional companies,” said Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, Uber’s head of France and Northern Europe. “We feel good about our chances of blocking it.” …
Paris has been a fertile ground for the new app-based car-service companies, with more than more than 12,000 vehicles now available—compared with nearly zero in 2010. It is one of Uber’s two biggest markets outside the U.S., alongside London. Revenue at Chauffeur-Prive.com is growing 10% week to week, its founder says.
Well, sure, but never mind that consumers obviously want to purchase this convenient, efficient, simple service, because heaven forbid that Uber taxi and other online-based services should be allowed to take up any market share from less innovative, uncompetitive, old-and-busted business models. That would be mean, or something.