City streets across Europe are jammed today as tens of thousands of taxi drivers block traffic. Cabbies in Madrid, Milan, Paris and London are protesting Uber, the smartphone app-based chauffeur service that they say is threatening their livelihood.
JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:
And from the corn crops of the United States to the city streets of Europe now. They have been seriously snarled today. Tens of thousands of taxi drivers are blocking traffic or driving very slowly in Madrid, Milan, Berlin, Marseille, Paris and London and they are doing it to protest Uber. Cabbies in Rio are also protesting Uber today as the World Cup comes to town.
Now, if you're not familiar with Uber, it is U.S.-based. It's a low-cost chauffer service that connects passengers with drivers using a smartphone app. Users love it, but Hackney cab drivers say it is unfair competition. Cabbie Richard Cudlipp in London told the BBC he has to follow rules that protect his customers.
RICHARD CUDLIPP: You have the trust in us that you can stick your hand out and the first person hopefully that stops for you will know where they're going. You know they've been background checked properly and off you go and everybody's happy.
HOBSON: Well, here's the response from Jo Bertram with Uber.
JO BERTRAM: We're fully compliant with all the private high legislation. Uber also offers another choice to customers and for drivers. It increases competition, which is good for all of us.
HOBSON: well, cabbies say, Uber's app is can amount to a taxi-meter and should be regulated as such. Uber says, it's a GPS device and it's not a meter. All this does not appear to be hurting Uber's growth yet though. It is now operating in 128 cities in 37 countries and was recently valued at $18 billion. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.