The Swedish taxi war escalates as several large taxi companies encourages its employees to report Uber Pop drivers – in what Uber calls a witch hunt.
The taxi company Cabonline has sent out a message to all of its drivers in which it encourages them to report Uber Pop drivers.
“We want to help the police to find the über pop (sic) vehicles in the city”, Cabonline writes in the company wide message.
The drivers are encouraged to get the number plates of the cars and report it back to their taxi company.
Cabonline, formerly known as Fågelviksgruppen, is on the of the largest taxi groups in the Nordics with Taxi 020, Taxi Kurir and Taxi Skåne among its subsidiaries.
Breakit got the tip from an anonymous Uber Pop passenger, who’s driver was afraid of getting caught.
The tip is now confirmed by Claes Löfvenberg, CEO at Taxi 020.
“That is correct, the message has been sent out because Uber Pop is an illegal service and they are taking job opportunities from our drivers. We want to help both the drivers and society to stop unlicensed drivers”, he says.
What has your drivers’ response been?
“The response has been great. Tips are just flowing in, that we can forward to the police”, he says.
How large is Uber Pop as a competitor to you?
“They are cutting our drivers’ margins, but it’s hard to know to what extent because Uber doesn’t disclose it’s finances.”
Oliver Carrà, Communications Lead Nordics at Uber, confirms that the tech company has noticed the message.
“We are very sorry that the taxi companies choose to react so aggressively. Regular people are the ones who get hurt, in what resembles a witch hunt”, he says, and adds:
“Uber Pop-drivers are regular people, with a drivers license and no criminal record, who wants to lower the cost of having a car by offer other people a ride. That is, structurally speaking, something entirely different from being a full time taxi driver.”
Swedish authorities however, does not share his view. Uber Pop drivers are effectively guilty of providing illegal taxi services, according to the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen). A number of Uber Pop chauffeurs have also been found guilty in court and sentenced to pay fines, most recently in the Svea Court of Appeals.
An article from Di Digital has also revealed that driver background checks aren’t always done properly. Uber claims that the case with Di Digital reporter is a one-time mistake.
Uber points out that the sentencing is directed towards specific drivers, and not Uber as a company.
“We remain adamant in our view that Uber Pop as a service is legal, but we want to see a new and technology neutral set of rules. We are welcoming to the governments new inquiry. We think that carpooling can create a lot of value for the Swedish society”, Oliver Carrà says.
The Swedish government has appointed an inquirer to look into the rules for carpooling and taxi services. It is expected to be released in December 2016.