Uber starts app-driven ride service in Basel

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Malcolm Curtis - [email protected]
Uber starts app-driven ride service in Basel
Photo: Uber

Uber, provider of the controversial ride-sharing app for smartphones that offers an alternative to taxis, expanded its service to a third city in Switzerland on Thursday.


The service launched in Basel at 2pm after being introduced in Zurich last year and in Geneva in September.

“We are proud to announce that the wait is over now,” Rasoul Jalali, Uber general manager for Zurich, is quoted as saying by 20 Minuten newspaper.

“It was high time that Basel was the third city added,” Jalali said.

“We have eyed Basel for a long time.”

Uber, based in San Francisco and with operations in more than 200 cities worldwide, has run into criticism in Geneva, where cantonal authorities have raised questions about its legality in the face of protests from cab companies.

The ride service has been banned in Germany, the Netherlands and Spain and more recently in New Delhi, India, following the alleged rape of a 26-year-old woman passenger by a driver working with the Uber app.

Cab companies in Basel charge that the Uber ride service offers no security for users and they feel it is illegal because the drivers have no permit to carry passengers.

However, Basel police say that Uber is offering a limousine service that does not fall under the local Taxi Act, according to 20 Minuten.

“Drivers must meet certain requirements of federal law, such as a tachograph (registering speed and distance) in the vehicle,” police spokesman Andreas Knuchel told the newspaper.

The driver must also be authorized to transport people on a professional basis, he said.

Otherwise, as long as vehicles are not labelled as a taxi and do not make use of special parking areas or road lanes designated for taxis, police see no reason to intervene.

Uber sees a market in Switzerland, which has some of the highest taxi fares in the world.

A recent study found that a typical three-kilometre ride in Zurich, Geneva and Lausanne cost more than the same journey in such cities as Paris, London and New York.

Uber allows people needing a ride at short notice to request a car via a mobile-phone app that uses the phone’s GPS to show the location of the available nearest driver.

The driver then tracks the location of the driver.

Details of the car and driver are transmitted to the customer by text message, and fares are paid by pre-registered credit card rather than cash.

The app allow customers to rate the quality of the service received. 


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