This morning Uber is launched in Uppsala, as the fifth city in Sweden. Globally Uber exists in over more than 400 cities. It's the service that's called UberX, which in Sweden means that the drivers have a taxi driver license, that will be launched here. (There are man different Uber variants and the requirements varies a little between countries.) I don't use taxi a lot, but everyone I know that do are really enthusiastic about Uber, so I think it's good news.
UberX is not a car sharing service and it's very similar to ordinary taxi. There are two other services that don't exist here yet, but that I'd like to see. First UberPop where the drivers don't have a taxi license and Uber Pool which is a car sharing service.
But what all Uber services has in common is a cleaver billing system, where you pay through the app, and where you can estimate the cost for the trip in advance. No more going to some foreign country and being cheated by cab drivers. And both drivers and customers get to rate each other which encourages good behaviour. Already that are great features, sharing or not.
But I really hope that the Pop and Pool variants will come here too soon. Uppsala is a student town so there are a lot of people who wouldn't afford an ordinary cab. But if you get to share it with a couple of other students, it could be affordable to get a ride home late at night. Or you could earn some extra money driving other people.
In Sweden taxi licenses are required for commercial taxi and some UberPop drivers have been fined for not having a license. Personally I think that the law should be changed. The whole idea with a taxi license seems obsolete, at best, with these new rating systems. A driver's license is already required for all car drivers, and the rest is a question about service which it don't think we need to regulate. The Swedish government is now looking into how the rules should change, but they seem to want to go the opposite way, by for example discussing wheather taximeter should be mandatory.
So what we have are some interesting innovations, like apps and rating systems, that make it easier to order and pay for a cab, and the trip more pleasant. And the discussion is about how we could stop that from happening?
I'd really like to become an Uber Pop driver myself during this year. There are two problems to solve first: 1) I have no car 2) Uber Pop doesn't exist in Uppsala. And then are the fines. I guess I could try to crowdfund for them, should it happen. But I talked to one of my best friends, let's call her my legal advisor, about this and she thought it would be a bad idea, if it would show up in my criminal record. I don't know if that would be a big problem, but it's not worth risking future employments or bank loans for. The best scenario would be that the law is changed in a way that lets us take advantage of new innovations. Given the current Swedish government I'm not too hopeful about that though...