BERLIN (Reuters) - Online taxi firm Uber will comply with a German ban on its services using unlicensed cab drivers by lowering its fees so it becomes more like a ride sharing service.
The Frankfurt regional court last month set stiff fines for any violations of local transport laws by Uber in a case brought by German taxi operator group Taxi Deutschland.
Uber said in a statement on Tuesday that the ruling was now enforceable, calling it “a defeat for all those who want more choice for their personal mobility”.
To comply, UberPOP, an online service that links private drivers with passengers via their mobile phones, will immediately switch to a per kilometer tariff of 35 cents in Frankfurt and Munich, a policy it had already adopted in Berlin, Duesseldorf and Hamburg.
It said that would make offering rides significantly less attractive for drivers, which would mean it would probably become much harder to book a ride in coming weeks.
Uber said it will continue to operate services in Germany using licensed limousine and taxi drivers and is working on an alternative ride sharing service that would meet German rules.
Uber, worth an estimated $40 billion making it the world’s most valuable venture-backed start-up, has set out to revolutionize local transport services worldwide, from taxis to carpools to fast-food delivery.
Uber’s popular mobile phone taxi-hailing services have mushroomed since being launched in 2010 and are offered in nearly 270 cities worldwide.
But Uber also has become a magnet for criticism of its business style of moving first and asking permission later. It has faced complaints around the world over how it pays drivers, charges passengers and ensures their safety.
Reporting by Emma Thomasson; editing by David Clarke