According to the canton of Geneva’s website all journeys arranged in the canton via the www.uber.ch platform are illegal. In addition, drivers could be hit with fines and administrative charges of up to CHF 20,000 and that professional drivers could lose their licences for as long as 6 months.
In Geneva, the company with the most to lose from the switch to services such as Uber, that connect drivers and passengers via mobile apps, is Taxiphone Centrale SA, believed to have an 85% share of the Geneva taxi market.
Uber has hit back with a petition entitled: “No to the banning of Uber in Geneva” which by midday on 14 April 2015 had 5,780 signatures. The petition page argues that banning Uber halts progress in Geneva mobility. It says that “It is not fair in Geneva that the taxi cartel systematically applies the highest prices authorised and that a single company sets the rules while controlling 85% of the market.”
While Uber might be a effective way to reduce the power of taxi monopolies it could itself become a monopoly and squeeze drivers and passengers with its charges. Thriving competitors to Uber are few. In the US, arguably the most competitive market for rent-a-ride apps, the largest competitor Lyft.com continues to lose market share as its growth is outstripped by Uber’s. According to slate.com over 85% of the two companies’ combined customers are using Uber.
Outside the US competitors that might keep Uber in check are even thinner on the ground – Lyft has no presence outside the US. In the Switzerland however, there is the car sharing service Tooxme, a Swiss (Vaud) start up launched in 2013, which could be worth a look.
New law could lift Uber’s Geneva prospects