Uber, SnapCar And Others Won’t Be Able To Use Geolocation In France
Thomas Thévenoud had an impossible job — he was the French deputy in charge of finding an agreement between urban transportation startups and taxi unions in France. He just announced his report to those companies, and it will become a law in the coming weeks. But some of the 30 points are highly controversial. For example, Uber, Chauffeur-Privé, LeCab and others won’t be able to use your phone’s GPS in France.
“The report is quite explosive. He has locked the use of geolocation for the urban transportation companies and is proposing to allow it only for the taxis,” SnapCar co-founder Dave Ashton told me in a phone interview. “From a technical standpoint, it’s pretty incredible because we invented the use of geolocation for the drivers and clients. It’s completely ridiculous.”
Other points won’t please taxi drivers. “The taxi drivers will strike immediately. That’s certain,” Ashton said. In France, when you call a taxi, the driver starts the taxi meter immediately. Thévenoud wants to cap this amount, or even end it. When you call an Uber, your ride doesn’t start until you’re actually in the car.
Every taxi driver will also need to have a credit card machine. This will make it much more difficult for cab drivers to avoid paying taxes on their rides. When you order a cab to go to the airport, it will be a fixed price like in New York and many other cities.
Thévenoud wants taxi drivers to systematically use geolocation. In short, the French government is taking Uber’s innovation and giving it exclusively to taxi drivers. The government could also ban ride-sharing services, such as UberPOP, Heetch and Djump.
Taxi drivers asked for much more aggressive rules against urban transportation companies. According to them, in order to protect taxis, LeCab, Uber and others should have to wait at least 30 minutes before letting a customer in the car, and a ride should cost at least $80 (€60). None of that is in Thévenoud’s report.
As a reminder, cab drivers have complained against urban transportation startups for months. They claim that allowing these new companies is unfair competition.
In December, the government announced and immediately passed the 15-minute law for Uber, Chauffeur-Privé and others. Drivers had to wait 15 minutes between the time a customer hailed them and they let them in the car. Most startups didn’t even try to comply with the rule, and it was recently suspended by the Conseil d’État. In other words, it was too harsh.
Yet, taxi driver unions said that they would regularly go on strike to protest that decision. That’s why Thévenoud was appointed to find a “fair and durable solution that will benefit everyone while taking into account the different needs in terms of urban transportation.”
In the meantime, the government has stopped issuing new driver licenses for urban transportation companies. These licenses should become more expensive in the near future as well. While today’s report is a first step, I don’t think it will end the conflict between taxi drivers and urban transportation companies anytime soon.