The controversial ride-hailing app service Uber now operates with professional drivers and is recognised as a “call centre” in the Lausanne area, in line with local rules. Pressure from taxi firms and unions have forced the US firm to review its Swiss set-up.
The Lausanne authorities confirmed the regulatory change on Tuesday that ensures Uber conforms to local rules for taxis and drivers. Around 60 drivers, validated as professionals, will be authorized to work for Uber for a renewable one-year period.
Tensions between Uber, local taxi services and the local authorities have calmed in recent months, Lausanne councillor Pierre-Antoine Hildbrand told the Swiss News Agency (SDA-ATS). This follows discussions and agreement on new working arrangements and the use of professional drivers.
Uber differs from other taxi firms primarily in that it does not own cars or directly employ drivers, but connects passengers and vehicles via its app. However, taxi unions have accused Uber of undercutting fare prices, lacking adequate insurance cover, employing non-professional drivers and failing to enforce the type of quality controls that standard taxi firms are subjected to.
In March it was reported that the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) now considered Uber taxi drivers as employees rather than self-employed contractors, a move that will also add to pressure on the company.
In Switzerland, Uber has offered three types of service since it was introduced in 2014: 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.
However, the ride-sharing firm announced it would abandon its UberPop service in Lausanne in November; it will now continue in Lausanne with UberX via its app. The UberPop service was already discontinued in Zurich in August. It will end in Basel from June 1, 2018, as it claims it is not profitable enough.