Thousands of taxi drivers protesting Uber brought the streets of the capital cities of Europe to a standstill on Wednesday, but their efforts backfired as the publicity increased Uber’s sales dramatically.
Uber, a mobile phone app that allows users to hail and pay for a privately licensed taxi through their phones or tablets, is now operating in over 100 cities in 37 countries, and is angering taxi drivers who say that the technology threatens their livelihoods. In London, Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, and Berlin, cab drivers demonstrated their anger by blocking the streets, causing a nightmare for the cities’ commuters.
Union official Steve Garelick, who represents the London cab drivers, expressed his resentment of Uber’s intrusion. “The long and the short of it is, allowing [a company like Uber] to come in and say they’re a tech company, that they don’t want to be licensed . . . is not fair,” he told CNN.
Madrid cab driver José Antonio Benitez is also unhappy with the new app. “It’s unfair competition,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “The government says they want a free market, but one that only hurts taxi drivers.”