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Taxi drivers face competition: Uber starts in Lucerne and strengthens the offer in Zug

Taxi drivers face competition: Uber starts in Lucerne and strengthens the offer in Zug

From now on, a trip with a professional driver from Lucerne can be ordered via the app from the transport service provider Uber. Uber has also planned activities in Zug.

Check online on the app to find out where the next driver is available, order it with one click and pay the costs directly in the app after the trip: This is roughly how a trip with Uber takes place. With the start in Lucerne, Uber is meeting the great demand in Lucerne, according to the company. Since the beginning of this year, users there have tried around 60,000 times to order a trip using the Uber app. At the same time, over a thousand independent drivers tried to offer rides with the Uber app. This has been possible since yesterday. Initially, the UberX category will be offered for Lucerne. A further expansion of the offer with Uber Black or Uber Comfort is being planned. These two categories are limousine services.

The company cannot say exactly how many drivers will be on the road for Uber when it starts in Lucerne. This is constantly changing, as the drivers are free to decide whether and when they want to go online for Lucerne, says Uber spokeswoman Luisa Elster when asked by our newspaper. "On Thursday there were about a handful of drivers on the road until the afternoon, and some trips have already been booked and carried out," says Elster.

"We assume that both the number of drivers and users will increase in the next few days."

Customers can currently be picked up in the city of Lucerne, but the offer is to be expanded beyond the city limits in the next few weeks. The destination is already freely selectable. "We have not received any special requirements and in a prior exchange with the city and the canton made sure that our offer complies with the regulatory framework," says the spokeswoman.

City councilor Borgula: offer is "fundamentally problematic"

Representatives of the city of Lucerne assess this differently. Environment and mobility director Adrian Borgula (Greens) only found out about Uber's plans on Wednesday. There had been talks beforehand, but they did not indicate an immediate appearance in Lucerne. Borgula finds the new offer “fundamentally problematic” and “not necessary”. The range in the taxi sector is already very large. "The margins for professional taxi drivers are low, it is difficult to earn a living with them." The new competition from Uber will exacerbate this situation. Mario Lütolf, Head of Urban Space and Events, explains: “We are following Uber's entry critically, as there are some open questions with the canton that need to be clarified, especially from a labor law perspective. Compliance with the working hours and rest regulations as well as the requirements for professional passenger transport must be guaranteed. " Uber does not have a permit from the City of Lucerne to use the public taxi stands. "Uber drivers do not need a stand because they drive on order," says Uber spokeswoman Elster. Lütolf says:

"Uber has an alternative business model, the offer of which is not subject to any municipal approval."

It will be up to the police to check compliance with the Road Traffic Act with regard to the requirements for commercial passenger transport. In addition to Uber, there are also other apps that can be used to call a taxi. For example, Taxi Hess AG Luzern offers its services via “cab4me”. None of the Lucerne taxi companies contacted wanted to comment on the Uber start on Thursday.

However, the Lucerne Trade Union Confederation (LGB) is clearly positioning itself. "As long as Uber does not abide by Swiss laws, the platform company is not welcome in Lucerne," said their message. The business model is based on wage dumping and the circumvention of laws, according to LGB manager Marcel Budmiger. By not viewing its drivers as employees, Uber is shifting all risk onto its drivers and cheating them out of the benefits they are entitled to. "We ask the canton to insist on compliance with the applicable laws," says trade unionist Budmiger. On behalf of the SP / Juso parliamentary group, Yannick Gauch and Martin Wyss have submitted an interpellation to the Lucerne City Council. Among other things, they want to know whether the city council sees an opportunity to restrict the company.

Promotion campaigns are planned in the canton of Zug

In Zug, Uber wants to further expand the existing service and intensify its activities. "We are planning special campaigns for drivers and passengers, such as discounts through promotional codes," says Uber spokeswoman Elster. Financial incentives have been created for drivers so that they can offer more journeys in this area.

Dealing with Uber is also an issue in other cantons. The canton of Geneva recently banned Uber from operating. The canton decided that the company had to comply with the cantonal laws and regulations for taxis and the law of obligations. Uber had a suspensive legal effect. A decision is now expected in the next six to twelve months.