Uber’s efforts to shake up Geneva’s expensive and uncompetitive taxi market could be bearing fruit. After the canton of Geneva announced that all rides in the canton arranged via Uber were illegal, Uber responded by launching an online petition calling for the liberalization of Geneva’s taxi market. The petition has now collected 14,800 signatures and will eventually be presented to the canton.
According to the Tribune de Genève, Pierre Maudet, Geneva’s state councillor in charge of security and the economy, announced that the canton has been working for several months on a new law that will allow Uber to operate legally in Geneva. He acknowledged that while applying the current law, which leaves little room for businesses like Uber to operate is not perfect, until this new law is in place, the existing law created in 2005 must be applied.
Liberalising the Geneva taxi market should be good news for taxi takers, increasing choice and lowering prices. Uber which allows users to arrange taxi rides via a mobile application, argues that it is progressing mobility and will increase the market for taxi services attracting those who would otherwise not use taxis.
But how desirable is this? Where will all these new taxi takers come from? If they take an Uber taxi instead of their own car then the environmental impact of the switch will be limited. If on the other hand they switch from public transport the environmental impact will be negative. Isn’t this a questionable form of mobility progress?
While Geneva’s taxi wrangling and new law making continues, those who currently use Geneva’s trains and buses (free from Geneva airport), instead of Uber’s expanding fleet of CO2 belching taxis, will continue to limit their impact on the environment.