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Fair competition? Uber ride service tests Geneva market

Uber allows riders to call and pay for a car via a smartphone application.

(Keystone)

The Uber ride-sharing service has expanded to Geneva, where it will operate under the name UberX. The start-up, already active in Zurich, has been facing legal troubles in neighbouring Germany over competition with taxis.

Like in Germany, the United States-based company could face some legal hurdles in the second-largest Swiss city. According to Geneva laws, commercial private transportation must be arranged through legal taxis or limousine services at a previously arranged price.

Uber’s offerings do not fall in either of those categories, and a test phase will prove whether it clashes with the law in Geneva. If the law is found to be breached, it could spell sanctions for drivers. A new taxi law is in the works in Geneva but must still be put to a referendum.

Uber differs from taxi services in that it allows riders to order and pay for its services through smartphones and employs professional drivers who work on a freelance basis. It is currently active in 45 countries and has launched a test phase in Geneva. The company also plans to expand to Bern.

German courts have recently issued injunctions against Uber’s services, arguing the company was in violation of the country’s competition laws.

A Geneva taxi service has said it is unconcerned by the competition posed by UberX, writing in a press release that the ride-sharing service will only appeal to a small section of the clientele seeking commercial transportation, namely young people who rarely use taxi services.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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