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Uber can continue operating throughout 2017, Senate says

by Maurizio Caprino

The Senate approved a bill yesterday that is very unpopular with taxi drivers.

The government amendment approved yesterday in a confidence vote clearly states that the clampdown on “alternative” taxi services (rentals with drivers, services like Uber) approved in 2008 has been delayed again, this time until December 31.

The decision was expected but was enough to spark protests from taxi drivers. Taxi drivers are concerned that a comprehensive reform will instead be approved to introduce some forms of liberalization.

The stricter regulation focuses on three aspects: car rental services with drivers can operate only when clients go to their desk and ask for the service. The vehicles can only be parked in selected areas, and the rental desk must be in the city where it has been authorized to work.

Only very heavy vehicles, which do not compete with taxis, can take passengers on the street with or without a previous reservation.

The competition issue (and the eventual infraction of EU rules) was immediately raised and resulted in a stop for the implementation of the stricter regulation a few months later, under article 7-bis of Dl 5/2009, pending the revision of the old law 21/1992, which strictly separates taxies from car rental services, within the competences assigned to local administration under the Constitution and Italian laws.

The suspension has been extended several times. But for taxi drivers waiting has become unsustainable.

For several years, widely-used technology (apps for smartphones) have allowed private drivers to take reservations in advance or last minute.

And there are important locations, like Rome’s Fiumicino airport, where the two services are available with similar options. The only difference is in price which for taxis is decided by the meter, while for private drivers is decided before the ride and is usually lower.