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April 7, 2018

UberX gets a big X from Greece, is forced to suspend operations

by John_A

Uber’s trials and tribulations aren’t going away anytime soon. A few months after being kicked out of London, the ridesharing company is facing a similar situation in Greece. On Thursday, April 5, the beleaguered San Francisco-based company announced that it would be suspending its licensed service, UberX, in the Mediterranean nation after local legislation was passed that imposed stricter regulation of such services.

“Since launching in Greece in 2015, UberX has become one of Athens’ most popular options to move safely around the city,” Uber wrote in a blog post noting the decision. “More than 450,000 locals and tourists from around the world have booked rides through our app.” Unfortunately, it would appear that Uber is going to have to temporarily push pause on its operations. The company noted that it will be forced to “assess if and how we can operate” given the new laws in Greece.

Consequently, the UberX service will cease operations beginning next Tuesday, April 10, without any clear restart date in sight. Uber has simply said that it will have to “find an appropriate solution,” which it hopes to do by working with local stakeholders.

So what, exactly, are these new laws? In essence, the now-passed legislation requires that all hired car trips begin and end in the fleet partner’s headquarters or parking area, which Uber, of course, does not do. In addition, the new laws will create a digital registry of all ridesharing platforms and their passengers.

Uber has long met with resistance from authorities and local taxi drivers in Europe. Ever since it launched in the continent in 2011, it has been accused of failing to adhere to insurance, licensing, and safety laws. Since the company’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, has taken over the reins at the company, Uber has begun taking a closer look at local rules and regulations in order to ensure compliance.

We should point out, however, that this doesn’t mean that Uber is being entirely pushed out of Greece. Rather, the company will continue to offer its UberTAXI option in Athens — this service allows passengers to order a local cab from their phones, rather than attempting to flag down a car on the street. Unlike UberX, which leverages professional licensed drivers, UberTAXI uses actual taxi drivers.

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