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Over 500 proceedings against Uber drivers

Around a hundred Swiss taxi drivers protest against Uber, in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 28, 2016 Keystone

There were 559 police procedures against the ride sharing service Uber in 2015 and 2016 in Zurich and Lausanne, the police have said. 

Most of the procedures concern the cheaper service UberPop, which allows anyone to drive people around like a carpool, Swiss public television, SRF, reported on ThursdayExternal link in its 10vor10 news programme. Most drivers were found not have the required licence to offer taxi rides.

The law states that if a driver transports a paying client more than once in 16 days, he or she is required to have the proper authorisation.

Police have also for the first time issued a warning to UberPop users: if you are found to be lying during a police check, – i.e. you say that you are a friend of the driver – you risk up to three years in prison.

Zurich cantonal police have taken action against 139 Uber drivers, and the city of Zurich police 79, while Lausanne police have counted 287, for driving without the municipal taxi licence. Added to this are 25 suspected cases in canton Basel City.

Fines could be as high as CHF10,000 ($9,837). In Basel a driver has already been fined CHF5,000 and in Lausanne the amount has reached CHF1,000.

Political issue

Meanwhile Uber and similar services have been the subject of a debate in the Senate. On Thursday, it accepted two motions from the House of Representatives that Uber and other share riding services should not have an advantage over normal taxi services.

One motion was to relax the strict standards that apply to taxi drivers and the other to bring regulations for professional transport services into line with modern technology.

Transport MinisterExternal link Doris Leuthard said that she had no problem with either of the motions. There are new business models which cannot be stopped, she said.

In a statement on Thursday, Uber External linkwelcomed parliament wanting to modernise the legal basis for driving services. A modernised regulation could make a contribution to traffic problems, it stated.

Taxi protest

Uber has not been welcomed by taxi drivers in Switzerland. Unions have accused Uber of undercutting fare prices, lacking adequate insurance cover, and failing to enforce the type of quality controls that standard taxi firms must use.

Uber differs from other taxi firms in that it allows riders to order and pay for its services through smartphones. It does not own cars or employ drivers, but connects passengers and vehicles via its app.

In Geneva the service was banned at the end of March 2015 because it was said to violate cantonal taxi regulations.

Uber says it offers much-needed competition for the taxi industry.  

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR