Uber drivers launched a protest outside the Trasnport Ministry in Athens on Thursday, after the ride-hailing service said it would suspend its licensed service in Greece after the approval of local legislation which imposes stricter regulation on the sector. Uber will suspends its uberX service as of 9. April 23:59. Uber, which operates a licensed service in the Greek capital, has faced opposition from local taxi drivers who accuse it of taking their business.
“New local regulations were voted on recently with provisions that impact ride-sharing services,” Uber said in a blog post. “We have to assess if and how we can operate within this new framework and so will be suspending uberX in Athens from next Tuesday until we can find an appropriate solution.”
Uber operates two services in Athens: UberX, which uses professional licensed drivers, and UberTAXI, which uses taxi drivers.
According to reuters, the new regulations require each trip to start and end in the fleet partner’s designated headquarters or parking area, something Uber does not do. A digital registry of all ride-sharing platforms and their passengers will also be created.
UberX launched in Athens in 2015 and more than 450,000 people have used its smartphone app to book a ride. News of the new regulation last year angered some Athenians and tens of thousands signed a petition launched by Beat – a local ride-sharing service – in favor of ride-hailing services.
UberX drivers have to be employed by fleet partners such as car rental companies or tourist agencies and their cars could not be more than seven years old.
The data registry and return-to-garage requirement will only apply to ride-hailing services like Uber and Beat, while taxi drivers will be able to use cars that are up to 22 years old, reuters notes.
Transport Minister, Christos Spirtzis, commented on Uber’s decision and to criticism that he kicks Uber out of Greece, he said “in order for someone to leave Greece, he ought to have an office in the country and also pay taxes.
Uber’s decision was hailed by the powerful Athens Taxi Drivers Union. Its President stated “in a country where democracy was born, there will always be people to defend it. Whoever does not want or can or has no profit from respecting the laws of our country, can go away and send us his regards…”
Just a couple of hours after the Uber announcement, Uber drivers jumped into their cars and staged a protest outside the Transportation Ministry.
Below a commend by a user of regular taxi service in Athens
Looking forward to returning to the traditional Greek taxi rides with amazing features such as: Secondhand smoking, loud music, tricks to increase the ride cost, complete disregard for road safety and racist conspiracy theories. #uber https://t.co/KcCIfJH65c
— George Christopoulos (@gtchristopoulos) April 5, 2018
What I hate most in Athens taxis is the live transmission of soccer matches on the radio. You don’t want to know the driver’s reaction when you politely ask to lower the volume…
On the other hand, I was once in an Uber taxi where I had to hear all the family stories of a frustrated housewife/taxi driver. All along a distance of 8 km… #Jeeeesus