Swedish Startup Space

The Uber Stockholm Situation -Where does it stand now?

Written by on May 7, 2013

If you aren’t aware of the Uber Stockholm drama that has been swirling around town for the last week or so, I can only assume you’ve been living under a rock. Well, I caught up with Community Manager Babba and General Manager Robin for a chat – in an attempt to find out more about exactly what happened and what lies ahead for Uber Sthlm. 

If you speak Swedish and want to get some quick background, check out this blog post. If not, read on!

Last week was crazy for Uber – tell us what happened

Yeah, the past few weeks have been crazy. It all started with the Transportation Agency denying exemptions to applicants who said they work with Uber. Even limousine companies, who previously got their exemptions now were denied when they said they work with Uber in between their regular business. Shortly after, all Uber drivers started to get pulled over by the police, some drivers got pulled over several times in ways that can only be described as aggressive and highly inappropriate. The police efforts had a very negative effect on Uber’s operations in Stockholm. On Wednesday we only had two cars left on the road, tons of scared drivers and a huge demand from our clients. The situation was so bad we were about to shut Uber Stockholm down. Its very hard for us to keep operations up without drivers on the streets.

Therefore, we decided to go live with a petition where we invited Uber lovers to raise their voices for us and tell the authorities why they want Uber to stay in Stockholm. This turned out to be efficient and we’re overwhelmed by the response we got. Thousands of people signed the petition and we had over 50K of Twitter impressions the same day of the campaign. We are very happy to see how engaged people are in the issue and coming up with ideas to solve the situation and we are constantly trying to provide information on our blog and via email to people writing in asking specific questions.

How has the response been from the authorities?

It has so far been very positive. The authorities we’ve met and presented the service to have understood the service and appreciate the benefits Uber brings to consumers and society. Our understanding is that the Transportation Agecy’s push to stop Uber is partly due to an unfounded fear that any non-metered car won’t report taxes properly. The truth, however, is that the Uber app tracks so much data that it’s virtually impossible to have limo partners cut corners on taxes. Uber digitalize what traditional limousine companies do manually.

There is a risk you will be shut down – what needs to happen in order for Uber to stick around?

Unfortunately yes, even though we’ve made some progress it’s still far from decided whether we will be able to continue to operate in Stockholm or not. The Transportation Agency seem to like the benefits of Uber but are also working to remove exemptions and limo services in Stockholm all together. We believe there has to be a better way of dealing with taxation and security issues than shutting down a whole industry of limousine services. Uber has proven that consumers in Stockholm want more convenient, safe and elegant way of getting around town. We now hope the Transportation Agency will listen to what the consumers want, understand the transparency of Uber which minimizes tax fraud – and grant the drivers the exemption they need to keep operating with Uber.

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