Fist fight! Nice taxis are expensive and often surly …and Uber cars are cheap and friendly …which makes the taxi drivers really, really mad! So mad that the President of the Taxi Union and another taxi driver were thrown in jail last week for beating up an Uber driver at the airport!
The taxis are furious at what they see as unfair competition from car services; after all, taxis have to buy a shockingly expensive taxi license …so let’s just take a look as why that is, shall we?
The number of taxi licenses in Nice has not increased since the 1960’s, thanks to pressure from the taxi union. This keeps the price of a coveted taxi license astronomically high, currently around 300,000€, and it can only be bought from a retiring driver. Those that have licenses have fought tooth-and-nail not to increase the number of taxis to meet the demand, using every tactic at their disposal. A couple of years ago it was proposed to simply allow the possibility of a taxi license to be shared by one driver during the day and another at night, which would help relieve some of the pressure. Result? The Nice taxi drivers pulled their trademark ‘escargot’, blocking all traffic into the airport for days, causing airport chaos as thousands of innocent travelers missed their flights, until the proposal was finally dropped.
By the way, the Nice taxis are threatening to go all escargot again in May, targeting the period that encompasses the Cannes Film Festival, Mother’s Day and the Monaco Grand Prix.
So what is this Uber, anyway?
With Uber, you sign up online in advance, and then when you want a car you have a choice of:
Uber Black Car, the more expensive (but still less than a taxi) service where you are picked up in an luxury sedan by a professional chauffeur in a suit and tie.
Uber-X, the moderately priced service (roughly 1/2 to 2/3 the cost of a taxi) where you have a professional driver, but the car is a normal model, not a luxury sedan.
Uber Pop, the super-bargain-priced service from moonlighting drivers, kind of like AirBnb. (Update – the Pop service has been discontinued in France thanks to the taxi union)
In each case you order the car online, and you immediately get a message confirming the car and driver, the estimated price, and in how many minutes. No cash changes hands, all the driver’s info is on your phone, and you rate the driver at the end of the ride.
Just for comparison, the Nice-Matin did a test of the 15-minute drive from the Meridien Hotel to the airport: an UBER-pop cost around 8-12€, an UBER-X 18-20€, an UBER-Black Car around 26-30€, and taxi 35€.
Wow, no wonder the Nice taxis are so mad!
Deal Alert: Get 10€ off your first UBER ride (which could make your airport transfer free!)… just go to the UBER site and enter this promo code when you sign up: uber-get-ten.
Update July 4: The taxi union killed Uber-Pop, but the bargain Uber-X and the luxury Uber Black Car are still perfectly legal and going strong.
Photo credit: Taxi sign by Simone Ramella, licenced under creative commons