Uber under attack as Paris cabbies launch protest
Paris taxi drivers have launched a series of violent attacks in protest against the launch of chauffeur service provider Uber. Windows were smashed, eggs thrown and tyres slashed on a number of Uber-booked cars, as well as cars booked through another private hire service.
One Uber car was attacked at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport after it picked up a female passenger, who described the attack on the social network service Twitter. Passenger Kat Borlongan tweeted: “Smashed windows, tires, vandalized vehicle, and bleeding hands,” adding: “Attackers tried to get in the car, but our brave Uber driver maneuvered us to safety, changed the tire on the freeway, and got us home.”
Two other cars, booked through the local Chauffeur Privé service, were targeted in similar attacks near Paris Orly Airport and Montparnasse train station. “Eggs and stones were thrown, and there were violent blows that broke the cars’ windows and rear-view mirrors,” Chauffeur Privé said in a statement.
Parisian cab drivers are protesting increased competition from private hire services, such as the US-owned Uber, which acts as a brokerage service for independent chauffeurs. “We strongly condemn this severe violence,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. “Today’s incident will certainly not tempt Parisians into choosing a taxi for their next ride.”
In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Borlongan said the attack on her car took place on the highway from the airport to Paris. Cab drivers had blocked off several lanes of the road, slowing traffic to a crawl while they pelted car-service vehicles with eggs and stones. “Then all of a sudden, someone smashed in my window,” she said. “A few pieces of glass lodged in my hand, so I had some blood on my hands. We kept going, and then all of a sudden there were six or seven men who stopped the car and tried to get inside. Someone spat inside the car through the open window.”
She continued: “We didn’t realise it at first, but someone on the left side slashed the tyre. We had to pull over, and we weren’t the only ones. There were already two or three other cars with slashed tyres.” Borlongan’s fellow passenger took the above photograph of the Uber Mercedes’ slashed tyre shortly after the incident.
Tensions between cabbies and Uber have been brewing for months. At the request of taxi drivers, the government recently imposed a new rule on private services requiring a minimum 15-minute wait between the time a car is booked and the passenger is picked up.