Now Stockholm’s transportation agency is identifying Uber drivers and denying them permits required for Uber’s service, as well as stopping and fining Uber drivers on the street through the police. The transportation agency’s explanation is that the permit for cars without a meter can only be given to companies that run members of the Swedish royal family, or senior managers in corporate positions. In Uber’s terms, they’ve challenged the status quo, and now they’re getting pushback.
“What we want to do is to be sure that the transportation agency continues to enforce this law in the same way that they’ve done before, so that we can get all the licenses that we need, so all the Stockholmers can enjoy this great, elegant transportation alternative,” says Robin Reznik, General Manager of Uber Stockholm.
Stockholm is Uber’s first launch in the Nordic market, so to catch everyone up, the San Francisco-based taxi startup lets executive cars monetize during their off hours by arranging pickups through a slick mobile app. The app allows you to see a map of where the cars are currently located, and gives you an ETA of how fast the car can get to your current location. The app also saves your credit card information, so once you reach your destination there’s no need to fumble around with credit card machines – you just hop out of the car. There’s a premium to it, but it’s a nice way to get around.
Uber has launched a petition that has received a large amount of traction on Facebook and Twitter. They say that if the situation is not reversed, they will be forced to shut down their services in Stockholm. This isn’t Uber’s first brush with regulatory opposition. They’ve been cease-and-desisted and sued all across North America, starting with their home base of San Francisco, Washington DC, Chicago, and Vancouver.
“What has happened in other cities is that eventually in the end the people have spoken, and that’s whats happening in Sweden right now,” says Reznik. “We have ministers writing on our behalf, and so far we have over 1,700 signatures on our petition in under three hours. So what we’re seeing is the beginning of a storm that will quicky blow over.”
The strongest argument coming from Uber is that these transportation regulators are not working to improve the safety and quality for consumers. Instead, they’ve preventing innovation and protecting the leading Taxi companies.