Uber makes inroads around the world despite taxi protests

If news headlines are any indication, 2015 was the year of Uber — or perhaps more appropriately, taxi vs. Uber.

From Paris to Montevideo, taxi drivers say Uber is stealing their jobs

Taxi drivers on strike burn tires during a national protest against ride-booking service Uber in Marseille, France, on June 25, 2015. (Jean-Paul Pelissier/Reuters)

If news headlines are any indication, 2015 was the year of Uber — or perhaps more appropriately, taxi vs. Uber.

Taxi drivers around the world protested against the popular ride-hailing app, arguing that the service took food off their tables and compromised their livelihoods. Meanwhile, Uber has asked numerous governments for regulation to allow the tech-friendly service to operate within the confines of the law.

The protests were to little or no avail. The popular but contentious UberX service that employs non-professional drivers continues to operate in all the cities below except Turin.


Anti-Uber protests across France, particularly in Paris and Nice, saw tires set on fire, windows smashed and cars overturned

A policeman secures the traffic as striking taxi drivers burn tires to block the access to Nice International airport during a national protest against Uber in Nice, France, on June 25, 2015. (Jean-Pierre Amet/Reuters)

The June nationwide protest led Uber to temporarily suspend its UberPOP service there. However, it has since quietly resumed operations as UberX.

A taxi driver holds a sign reading 'this is not an illegal taxi' during a protest by European taxi drivers against Uber in central Brussels, Belgium, on Sept. 16, 2015. (Francois Lenoir/Reuters)

Uber is also unpopular with cab drivers elsewhere in Europe.

The UberX service launched in Brussels on Sept. 3.

Taxi drivers from all over Europe line a street during a protest against Uber, in central Brussels, Belgium, on Sept. 16, 2015. (Yves Herman/Reuters)

Although there is an entry on Uber's website for Turin, an Italian city with fewer than a million residents, the service does not currently operate there.

However, premium variations of Uber (like UberBLACK and UberVAN) are available in other Italian cities, namely Roma and Florence.

Italian taxi drivers protested against Uber in Turin on Feb. 17, 2015. (Alessandro Di Marco/EPA)

UberX doesn't operate in The Hague yet, but it does in Amsterdam (launched in September) and Rotterdam (launched in October).

Dutch taxi drivers demonstrate against app-based transportation network and taxi company Uber's UberPop service in The Hague, The Netherlands, on Feb. 18, 2015. (Bart Maat/EPA)

In Latin America, taxi drivers clogged busy city streets to protest against Uber.

In San Jose, Costa Rica, Uber and competitor Lyft were cleared to pick up passengers from the airport in November, despite frequent protests by taxi drivers.

A taxi driver holds a sign which reads 'No Uber, out' during a protest against Uber, outside the embassy of Colombia, in San Jose, Costa Rica, on July 29, 2015. (Juan Carlos Ulate/Reuters)

In December, the government of Sao Paulo, Brazil, said it is looking at introducing a model that requires Uber to buy transportation credits for distance covered. The rate would change depending on the time of day and location. Uber called the credit idea "innovative."

Taxis block an avenue during a protest against Uber in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Sept. 9, 2015. (Paulo Whitaker/Reuters)

Rio de Janeiro — the site of the 2016 Olympics that will attract millions of tourists — in September banned services like Uber outright. However, Reuters reports the service continues to operate despite the ban.

A man rides his bicycle between taxis parked on the street during a protest against Uber in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 24, 2015. (Ricardo Moraes/Reuters)

UberX began operations in Montevideo on Nov. 19 despite taxi drivers' opposition.

Taxi drivers' union leader Oscar Dourado, centre, speaks during a protest against the Uber rollout in Montevideo, Uruguay. Protesters met in front of a hotel where Uber was training drivers on Nov. 13, 2015. (Juan Ignacio Mazzoni/EPA)

Bogota, Colombia, was the second Latin American city to get Uber. Now it boasts four car options, including a service called UberANGEL. It's a flat-fee service that people can call on after they've had a few too many drinks. 

Cabs are reflected in sunglasses as cab drivers block an avenue to protest against the Uber ride-booking service in Bogota, Colombia, on July 29, 2015. (John Vizcaino/Reuters)


UberX use is rampant across Australia, with the service currently offered in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and elsewhere in the country.

That doesn't mean it's legal or that cab drivers are OK with it — a newspaper in the state of Victoria wrote in October that the local taxi bureau has fined Uber drivers upwards of $600,000 and that there were at least a dozen cases before the courts in the state of Victoria alone.

Taxi drivers attend an Uber protest in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, on Sept. 10, 2015. (Dan Peled/EPA)


Taxi drivers in Montreal and Toronto have grabbed headlines for their frequent protesting against Uber, specifically its UberX service. Even so, UberX operates in nine or so cities in Canada, including the aforementioned Montreal and Toronto, as well as Calgary, Ottawa and Windsor. 

Canada's Competition Bureau in October released a white paper on the subject, in which it urged cities pondering Uber policies to relax regulations and allow ride-booking services to compete against taxis.

Taxi drivers demonstrate in Montreal on Aug. 25, 2015, after Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said he'd allow Uber to operate legally in the province. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)
Taxi drivers assemble for a protest in Toronto on June 1, 2015. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

Pro-Uber demonstrations

While taxi drivers around the world are angry about Uber, some of Uber's supporters have come out toting signs of their own, too. 

In New York City, people gathered over the summer to support the ride-hailing app and denounce how some cities seem determined to protect the taxi industry.

Josh Mohrer, right, Uber's general manager for New York, speaks to the media on June 30, 2015, while Uber riders and driver-partners take part in a rally on the steps of the New York City Hall against proposed legislation limiting for-hire vehicles in New York. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)
Uber riders and driver-partners take part in a June 30, 2015, rally on the steps of New York City Hall against proposed legislation limiting for-hire vehicles in New York. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)


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