French Taxi drivers have been complaining that private chauffeured car services (known as VTCs in France) such as Uber have hit their business unfairly since their launch.
In October 2014, French lawmakers introduced a law (dubbed "Loi Thévenoud") largely in favour of taxis.
Acknowledging that the right to accept customers without prior reservation is exclusively limited to licensed taxi drivers, the Thévenoud law banned VTCs from using GPS technology to display the locations of cars to potential customers and required that VTCs return to their place of dispatch between fares if they are not booked by a client for a ride.
It follows that it is impossible to hail a VTC. Moreover, the Thévenoud law instituted an electronic service called "Le.taxi" for those taxi drivers wishing to display their real-time location to potential customers. This publicly-funded service may be accessed by customers through a number of approved mobile applications.
The Decree (décret n°2016-335) setting out the rules according to which this service may operate was published on 21 March 2016. The French Competition Authority, which was consulted prior to the publication of the decree, issued a favorable opinion with a few stipulations, the most important of which are listed below:
- the area of GPS localisation must be limited;
- the service must identify all those taxis drivers that registered to join the service, without the possibility to exclude some taxi companies (the only filters available to customers must relate to options such as the number of passengers, available payment options, baby seat options, etc.);
- taxi drivers must be prohibited from declining to take a passenger on board;
- taxis drivers must be barred from charging customers until they are physically picked up.
The overarching idea is for this electronic service to be a close reflection of physical hailing. The introduction of this new service — soon to be available throughout France — is an unprecedented effort to fend off the competition brought about by VTCs by providing taxi drivers popular modern electronic tools similar to those used by VTCs. Customers using this new service will even be able to rate their taxi drivers!