Violent protests are erupting against Uber in Paris. Taxicab drivers, threated by Uber’s innovative business model, have blocked access to airports and railway stations, overturning suspected Uber drivers’ cars. With massive travel delays frustrating Parisians, taxi drivers have given up trying to be popular or providing better service—they are instead pushing for political favors to protect themselves from competition.
The mayhem caused by taxi drivers was sparked by Uber’s non-compliance with a recent court ruling that prohibited matching unlicensed drivers with potential passengers using an app. Uber, which appealed the ruling, is not suspending operations in Paris, and will pay fines levied on drivers. This resistance should be welcomed: if Uber wins, so do consumers and entrepreneurs.
Only 17,702 taxis roam Paris, far below customer demand. Each time the city attempts to expand the number, French cab drivers respond with “Operation Escargot.” They drive slowly along Paris’s main roads, causing major traffic problems. When taxi drivers feel threated by new competition, they vandalize Uber drivers’ vehicles. Paradoxically, taxi-driver strikes help Uber’s reputation and earnings, because fewer taxis on the road mean that Uber trips are in higher demand and cost more.
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