Car-and-driver provider Uber has decided to drop its UberPop service in Zurich following controversy over its legality. The change does not apply to Basel or Geneva.
The change takes effect on Thursday at midday. Zurich UberPop drivers will have three months to get permits that will allow them to chauffeur passengers for pay under the more expensive UberX and UberBlack services.
In a statement on Wednesday, Swiss trade union Unia called the development a “partial success” but questioned why the UberPop model would continue in Basel and Geneva. It argues that Uber is taking business away from professional taxi drivers.
In June, Zurich authorities declared that UberPop drivers without an official professional taxi licence were operating illegally – even if they met the conditions set by Uber: having a four-door car and being at least 21 years old.
UberPop drivers have previously been fined by authorities for operating without a licence: a documentary by Swiss public television, SRF, last year found that Zurich cantonal police had taken action against 139 Uber drivers, and the city of Zurich police 79. Fines for operating without a licence could reach CHF10,000 ($10,300). Police also issued a warning that if a driver was found to be lying during a check – claiming to be a friend of the passenger, for example – he or she could risk up to three years in prison.
Uber offers three types of service: UberBlack uses professional drivers operating high-end sedans; UberX is an intermediate range of cars; UberPop, at the lower end of the scale, is operated by any individual with a four-door car who signs up on the company’s website.