Long plagued by legal issues and driver shortages, ride sharing service Uber is set to expand into more of Switzerland’s French-speaking towns.
The ride sharing service announced on Wednesday it would expand into the predominantly French-speaking towns of Fribourg, Sion and Yverdon.
A spokesman for the American service told Swiss media outlet Watson the expansion was fuelled by demand.
In Sion and Fribourg, while rides can be booked via the app, they will be carried out by taxis in order to comply with local regulations.
“Our launch will enable taxi drivers to increase the use of their vehicles, win new customers and thus generate more sales thanks to our technology,” said Jean-Pascal Aribot, Director of Uber Switzerland.
Uber currently operates freely in the German-speaking cities of Basel, Bern, Lucerne, Winterthur and Zurich.
Legal issues and driver shortages
Uber’s expansion in Switzerland has been slower than in some neighbouring countries.
Drivers have complained that Switzerland’s high cost of living makes it more difficult to make ends meet, while the company has also been plagued by frequent legal issues.
The service is currently banned in Geneva due to concerns about payments for drivers, although the ban has been suspended regarding an appeal.
Geneva classifies Uber as an employer, meaning that drivers should be entitled to benefits including paid holidays, sick leave and pensions.
The company disputes this and says its drivers are independent contractors.
In February, voters in Zurich approved a plan to place more restrictions on Uber in the canton.
The new restrictions include that drivers need to register with cantonal authorities and place obvious signs on their vehicles to distinguish them from regular cars.
The vote, which took place only in the canton of Zurich as part of the February 9 round of referendums, sought to bring regulation for Uber and other ride-sharing services in line with taxis and other limousine services.
A total of 51.6 percent of voters approved the initiative, while 42.4 percent were opposed.
The initiative also ‘cantonalised’ taxi regulation, meaning that the municipalities of Zurich will no longer set conditions for taxi companies. Unlike previously, taxis are now allowed to use ranks anywhere in the canton.