“It says no cars available…”, I said shaking. My worst nightmare had come true. I was not able order an Uber on my first trip outside of Prague to Budapest, Hungry. I quickly googled “Uber in Hungry” and found that it had been ban. Not only was I devastated that I could not use one of my favorite apps but I knew all the taxi’s would take advantage of me because I was American (and they did).
Uber is an app that allows users to order a car to their specific location, as well as, type in their destination. The costumer does not need a street name or address but rather can just type in the name of the restaurant, museum, etc. Costumers pay through the app with an estimated price being shown prior to the ride. This ensures the costumer knows the price of the ride so they do not get scammed. It also makes it faster for users to get in and out of the car and not struggle to find a taxi. This is especially helpful when you’re a tourist, there is bad weather or during rush hour.
Image courtesy of Elekes Andor: Wikimedia Commons
According to David Meyer of Fortune, as of July 2016, “(uber) said that it will have to suspend operations due to new regulations in the Hungary.” However, Hungary is not the only country in Central and Eastern Europe that is trying to get Uber banned. Just outside the New York University Blue Building in Prague, you can hear the taxis beeping around New Town Hall in protest of Uber. They drive in circles, honking their horn for thirty minutes straight. Not only annoying the tourist and law makers but my education. While in Copenhagen, I was asked to sit in the front seat of all my Ubers. When I asked why the driver responded that, “Uber is not really allowed but it exists here”.
David Meyers continues that, “The European Commission may have recently pleaded with EU countries to go easy on “collaborative economy” platforms such as Uber, but Budapest is clearly not listening.” The new legislation brought forth by the Hungarian parliament requires the country to block the apps of passenger transport companies that do not use traditional dispatch services. The law was a result of angry taxi firms protest over the competition. It is clear that the taxi firms cannot compete as tourist, such as myself, would rather use Uber and pay a fair price than be ripped of by the taxi companies. Also I know I feel more comfortable and safe in an Uber than a random taxi I find on the street.
Mark MacGann, the Head of Public Policy at Uber, states, “Uber is facing great resistance in Europe because it is challenging an old, uncompetitive industry”. According to Ecaterina Casinge of EURACTIV.COM, “There are ongoing lawsuits in France, Germany, Belgium, and Spain. They have also filed a complaint with the European Commission against these countries, apart from Belgium.”
So the real question becomes, “Why is there so much opposition in Europe to Uber?” Uber is one of the biggest companies in the world and is widely accepted by cosumers. I know, as a college student and traveler I relay on Uber heavily. According to MacGann, “There is opposition because we (Uber) are coming and shaking up an old, deeply entrenched industry. Some countries are protecting the taxi industry to the detriment of consumers. If politicians would focus on what’s good for consumers, rather than what’s good for the taxi industry or Uber, then we would be in a different place.” Although Uber and taxi companies are major competitors, it would be beneficial for the companies to focus on what is better for the consumer by evening the playing field.
Image courtesy of Flickr
In New York, Yellow Taxi Cabs have an app called “Arro”. “Arro” has the exact same features as Uber but only for Yellow Taxi Cabs. The app “Arro” is actually even better than Uber because it does not charge surge pricing. Surge pricing is the one major problem many people have with Uber. This benefits the consumer and evens the playing field for both companies. Davey Alba wrote in a Wired article about the launch of “Arro” claiming, “Arro appears to be an effort to bring to the taxi industry a level of service and convenience many people now take for granted.” If Central and Eastern Europe followed the same path as the taxis in New York, they would not have to worry about losing as much money. I know I would use a taxi app because it would make me feel safer and ensure I get a fair rate. It is time the taxi industry in Central and Eastern Europe stop complaining and start innovating.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr