UberPOP cheap taxis launch in Amsterdam

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Taxi service Uber wants to open up the market for private drivers to be able to make a bit of extra cash by offering their chauffeur services in Uber's taxi app. Clients would pay half the price for their trip with the app's new scheme. The service is called UberPOP and will start in Amsterdam today, the NOS reports.

If private drivers own a sedan made after 2005, then they can drive post their service on the app. Payment will also go through the app with a registered credit card.

Potential chauffeurs will have to be 21 years old and follow an internal training course. They need a Statement of Good Behavior and an insured car.

The service will launch a trial period in Amsterdam after the idea's success in some cities abroad. UberPOP was not, however, well received amongst taxi drivers who argue unfair competition. In Brussels, judicial action resulted in several UberPOP cars being seized. In Hamburg, the service was banned by the authorities until the judge removed the ban.

The UberPOP drivers will not be put through the strict administrative ringer like official taxi drivers in The Netherlands are. Official drivers are obligated to carry a diploma and a chauffeur's card. Uber admits that their rules are not as strict.

"The current law is antiquated", says Niek van Leeuwen, director of Uber Netherlands. "Luckily, the law will be evaluated and amended later this year. I expect that room will be made for innovative concepts such as this."

Earlier Uber taxi cab service initiatives in Amsterdam were also not well-received by Dutch taxi drivers, who also argued that the low prices were unfair competition. Minister Kamp at the time said that there would be space to amend the law for Uber, but that was about professional drivers, and prices comparable to those of a normal taxi.

With UberPOP, a trip of five kilometers in 10 minutes costs around €8.50. This is €17 in a normal taxi. UberPOP has a starting tariff of €1 plus 20 cents per minute and €1.10 per kilometer. A taxi has a starting tariff of €2.89 plus 35 cents per minute and €2.12 per kilometer.

Uber's earnings off this scheme will come from the 20 percent commission that the company keeps from the trip price. UberPOP wants to become the alternative for car ownership in cities, so that there is less space needed for parking places. In this way, the service says that it has ideal intentions.

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