The message was clear: “We want Uber out”. We stood amongst thousands of taxi drivers today at The Olympic Stadium in Berlin as they fought together as one for the first time. Even the wind, rain and humidity did nothing to deter these licensed operators who feel they’re being usurped from all angles.
We’ve been following the news closely as more and more taxi and private hire drivers and fleets publicly voice their discontent. Until now, organizations and associations for drivers have been localized, with no need to unite. But now things have changed. They share a common cause, determined to keep their place as leaders in the passenger transport industry.
Myself and Donal (our Key Account Manager) joined the demonstration today to show our support for fairness to fleets and drivers. Cabbies gave rapturous applause to the speeches, chanting ‘Uber out’ and waving banners. The queue of taxis sounding horns stretched all the way to Tegel Airport.
There’s no denying it now: This means war. Speakers representing the taxi associations declared that booking apps (like Uber and Wundercar, named today) are operating illegally and must be stopped. They skirt around (or choose to ignore) local regulations; the drivers often have no formal training, no full insurance and no licence to operate in passenger transport. Aside from being an insult to the drivers who spent years gaining their qualification and experience, it also presents a safety risk to the public.
Please don’t misunderstand us; T Dispatch fully supports innovation in technology. It’s what we do! We even provide apps to our clients that give a similar user experience to the leading P2P apps. But technological innovation should never be at the expense of a long established industry. Regulations are there for a reason; they’re what’s kept taxis and minicabs working in relative harmony for more than 50 years.
Never before has the industry seen so much unrest. It’s time for professional drivers to make their voices heard.