FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Online transportation company Uber said on Monday it would offer services using regular, licensed taxi drivers in Germany, where taxi associations have been trying to stop it operating.
Uber said it would start its UberTaxi service — which uses regular taxi drivers to pick up rides in their down time — in Berlin and Hamburg before rolling it out in other cities.
While UberTaxi’s prices often undercut those of the regular taxi organizations trying to block the company, the service can benefit individual drivers by finding them passengers at times they would otherwise have been waiting on a stand.
The UberTaxi service is already running in London and New York and Uber is starting it in Germany after attempts to launch other services were blocked.
Courts in Berlin and Hamburg have banned Uber’s classic low-cost, limousine pick-up service UberBlack as well as UberPop, a newer ride-sharing service that links private drivers with passengers.
The courts said Uber’s drivers did not comply with German law for the commercial transportation of passengers.
Uber also said it would modify its UberBlack service to comply with the Berlin court ruling — while also appealing against it — and was considering contesting the Hamburg ruling.
Uber, which was recently valued at $18 billion, has been shadowed by skirmishes with taxi operators and local authorities in many cities where it operates, starting in its home base of San Francisco.
It is active in 43 countries and has pulled out of only one city: Vancouver, Canada.
The Berlin court said last week there was no way of telling whether private drivers using the UberPop mobile phone app were fit for the special responsibility of carrying passengers.
It said the UberBlack service did not meet the legal requirement for taxis to return to their service center and so fell between regulations for taxi and rental car services.
Reporting by Harro ten Wolde; editing by David Clarke