Uber hits more regulatory roadblocks

Published: April 16, 2015

Updated: July 24, 2018

Author: Callum Micucci

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Popular ridesharing app Uber has hit yet more roadblocks in its quest to become a global presence, as the Geneva cantonal government has banned it from operating in the city, and Houston, Texas has given it an ultimatum.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Uber says the cantonal government has found it to be in violation of local taxi laws, and ordered it to cease operations in the area at the end of March.

News website KHOU reports on April 15 that the mayor of Houston has issued an ultimatum: they require a report on the mayor’s desk from Uber by Friday on how it plans to comply with local regulations, or it will revoke its permit.

In defense, Uber continues to maintain that it’s a technology company, not a taxi company, and therefore shouldn’t be subject to the same rules and regulations as taxis.

Toronto is in the midst of a similar battle with Uber dating back to the fall of 2014, when the City of Toronto filed an injunction to stop Uber from operating an unlicensed taxi service in the city.

Uber said the same thing at that time regarding the Toronto issues, and since then, Toronto police have conducted a sting operation, charging 11 UberX drivers with operating a taxi without a license or commercial insurance.

However, a high-profile defence lawyer named Gerald Chan is defending the group, and when asked whether Uber hired the Chan, the company told the Toronto Star that, “in general, Uber fully supports its drivers in ‘instances of enforcement.’”

In Geneva, Uber drivers who continue to accept passengers could face fines of up to $20,663 USD, according to the Wall Street Journal; however, similarly to the Toronto case, Uber says it’s remaining operational in the city as they consider their legal options.

Thomas Meister, an Uber spokesperson, told the Wall Street Journal the same refrain: that Uber is a technology company, not a taxi service, and therefore the Geneva ban is unfair.