European taxi strike against Uber backfires as usage spikes


Photo by Flickr user acanyi

A taxi-driver protest Wednesday against the ride-for-hire app service Uber had the opposite effect as the service claims its sign-ups skyrocketed 850 percent.

The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association organized a strike in London Wednesday that saw black cabs parked around tourist hotspots and other landmarks, causing traffic. Other taxi associations in cities across Europe joined in the protests.

As the strikes were happening, Uber took advantage of the situation and offered discounts to its customers.

Andre Spicer, professor of organizational behavior at Cass Business School in London, told CNBC that the protests raised awareness of the service instead of dissuading people from using it. “Uber is top of everyone’s minds. Lots of people who have never heard of the app before now know what Uber is.”

Uber, a company that provides mobile apps which allow riders to be connected to drivers and ridesharing options in cities across the world, has been controversial with taxi companies due to complaints that they are not regulated like taxis are, despite charging based on time and distance. Without the same regulations, taxi drivers have argued that Uber has an unfair advantage.

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