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08 July 2017

Uber halts primary taxi service in Finland until 2018

Uber is pulling its primary service out of Finland as it waits for a law that will deregulate the taxi market to be passed.

The cab firm, which exclusively operates in the nation’s capital Helsinki, is suspending its UberPop service, which allows any driver to sign up and offer unlicensed taxi trips.

“We want to ensure that we do not pose drivers who use our app or our employees any unnecessary issues, especially now that we have a bright future to look forward to. We believe that the best way to do so and focus on the future is to pause UberPop and relaunch in the summer of 2018,” said Joel Järvinen, Uber’s country manager for Finland, in a blog post on Thursday.

“While we are looking forward to the reforms coming into effect, we have decided it is best to pause UberPop from 15 August until the new regulations allow a better environment,” Järvinen added.

Uber’s luxury licensed service, UberBlack, will continue operating in the Finnish capital Helsinki, and Jarvinen said the company is committed to supporting the hundreds of drivers who would no longer be able to make money with UberPop.

Uber is legal in Finland provided its drivers hold valid taxi licences, but the company has been the target of police investigations and drivers have been ordered to give up their earnings to the state for not having valid taxi permits.

Once the new law comes into effect, drivers will still need permits but annual permit quotas and fare restrictions will be removed, which could help new entrants to the market.

Helsinki district court last week ordered Jarvinen’s assets to be confiscated until police conclude an investigation into whether Uber operates an illegal taxi service in Finland.

UberPop is at the heart of many of the company’s legal troubles around the world, since it is the main service that allows unlicensed and unregulated drivers to operate on the platform. It has already been forced out of multiple European cities, including Paris, Brussels and Berlin, and for those locales where demand isn’t high enough to support a licensed option, it has resulted in the company abandoning the place entirely: Frankfurt, Hamburg and Düsseldorf lost their Uber service in 2015, as a result of a German ban on UberPop.

In the UK, where unlicensed taxi operations are strictly against the law and carry a £1,000 fine for drivers caught offering illegal services, UberPOP has never been offered, and Uber drivers must carry a minicab licence – although the company has faced criticism for allowing drivers to work in cities other than the one they hold a licence for.

Source: Guardian UK

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