Uber seeking to offer rides in Estonia

5/6/2015 11:22 AM
Category: Economy

The app-based transportation service Uber has been a source of controversy in Europe due to its unlicensed drivers, resulting in the likely hiring of individuals with an occasional transportation service permit in Estonia.

Uber's General Regional Manager Jambu Palaniappan has confirmed the company's near-future expansion to Tallinn, Eesti Päevaleht reports.

According to the daily, the US-based tech firm may start offering its services in the coming weeks.

Uber is likely to hire local drivers who have been granted an occasional transportation service permit as according to the Public Transport Act, which are issued to individuals in the business register by the Association of Estonian International Road Carriers (ERAA).

Kaja Kallas, an Estonian MEP, and Guy Verhofstadt, the head of the European Liberals and Democrats in the European Parliament, recently argued in favor of Uber's expansion in Europe. "In a time of continuing sluggish economic growth and unacceptably high levels of unemployment – nearly 25 million Europeans are unable to find a job – the growth of the ‘app economy’ should be seen as part of the solution, rather than part of the problem," they said in an opinion article, published in ERR News.

However, some find that Uber is unlikely to have a smooth ride in the new market. A taxi driver in Tartu told ERR News that the unfavorable light in which Uber has been presented in Estonia so far, is similar to its reception in Germany, doubting the service's likelihood to thrive in comparison to its popularity in the US. According to the driver, affordable and accessible taxi services such as those provided by the local app-based Taxify and Elektritakso's fleet of electric cars, will prevail as viable competition to the incoming provider.

Based in San Francisco, Uber provides an app-based solution that connects private car owners to individuals seeking transportation. Similar to carpooling, the service potentially proves cheaper in comparison to taxi services. The company was previously reported to be seeking extension to the region in February.

A. Kaer

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