To counter Uber, the French government built an app called Le.Taxi. Here's why it won't work

To counter Uber, the French government built an app called Le.Taxi. Here's why it won't work
“Anything you can do, I can do better.” Such is the attitude behind the French government, which announced Le.Taxi, a new Uber-like service for consumers to order, pay, and rate a taxi. The app, currently in private beta, comes on top of existing mobile Taxi apps that have been released by taxi companies  (WeCab, by G7) as well as services offered by third party apps like eCab, which is available in 10 cities to date.
Le.Taxi is the fruit of the Loi Thévenoud,  enacted October 2014, providing a legal framework to resolve the conflict between Taxi’s and VTC (i.e: Uber drivers). While much of the law laid down a framework that promised that Uber would never disappear, recent conflicts with Uber surrounding its peer-to-peer UberPOP service have seen an increase in Uber/Taxi conflict. After two of its French executives were arrested and put on trial, Uber has recently reported that several speaking engagements in France were cancelled after local taxi authorities threatened to protest the conference (i.e: block the entrance with their cars) if Uber spoke at the event.
On their website, Le.Taxi points to the 50,000 potential Taxi drivers, and they are focusing on the advantage for independent taxi drivers to use the service as well. Their hope is that, by providing the same level of access to Taxis as consumers have to VTC drivers today – whether through Uber, SnapCar, Chauffeur Privé, LeCab or others – that users will begin ordering taxis the same way they are using Uber today. The Silicon Valley would have a lot to say about government-driven consumer applications, as well as about the need for innovation to be 10x better than the standard (set down by Uber); however, I’m not sure that Le.Taxi’s adoption will depend upon consumer interest.
Taxi drivers may be reluctant to have data about their distance, payment, and customers in the hands of the government. Currently in France, Taxi drivers’ routing equipment, which determines their distance and, thus, the price of their fair, is not directly connected to the French Government (contrary to, say, Berlin, according to BFMTV).
I’m dubious of the willingness of taxi drivers to adopt a government-developed taxi app, given that much of the discontent with the Taxi system in France has been due to their unwillingness to accept debit card payment (although that will change, due to a new law put in place this year requiring all taxi’s to have a working credit card machine), their reputation for being unfriendly (i.e: low rating), and their willingness to take longer routes to make customers pay more.

8 Responses

  1. Erik Bobbink

    This will only make Uber stronger after the French Government fails. They will realize that starting marketplaces is much harder than it seems. Great article 🙂

  2. david

    Another issue is that taxis in Paris start the meter as soon as they get the call, whereas Uber doesn’t start the meter until you get in. I had a taxi, back when I used to take taxis in Paris, show up with €17 already on the meter – *gulp.*
    That, coupled with the credit card machines that are constantly “en panne,” (or so the drivers say), will not make the Paris taxis a better option than the other choices, even with their new app. If you want to compete with a successful company, you need to do better. Or at least offer something at least similar, not less.

  3. Heather

    I’m surprised you’ve taken such a typical Parisian cynical opinion. I like and use Uber all of the time, but I think it’s a bit irresponsible to declare that it won’t work when you haven’t tried it yet. Facts, not opinions, are what make good journalism. Past experiences don’t guarantee future results. Go out and test it, then write your article.

    • Liam Boogar

      1) I’m not Parisian
      2) I don’t think a typical Parisian would’ve written in English.
      3) The service isn’t launched yet.
      4) Using past experiences to make assumptions about the future is the backbone of human civilization.
      5) I actually took a pretty neutral stance. My only worries are that A government-run service will have trouble gaining traction among taxi drivers (who are already known to prefer cash payment in order to avoid declaring taxes) and consumers, who are known to need a bigger incentive than “try the same thing but with different drivers.”
      I hope that was succinct enough.

  4. Nathalie

    My biggest reason for not taking taxis are the sexual advanced by drivers. Which is a shame because I have had pleasant taxi drivers too. The only issue is that those taxi drivers are not penalised (and rude when you confront them), while for a bad Uber driver I could just make a review that ruins them.

  5. Dave Ashton

    i am hopelessly biased as you can imagine. but sadly there is zero chance this application will work. riders won’t use it because they already have g7, uber and/or snapcar, and drivers won’t want to be connected to it because (among other reasons) they either don’t want to be part of an app or are already affiliated with g7.
    lastly, is not a private enterprise. so the funder of the project (the government) does not care if the app succeeds and won’t fund it appropriately to ensure that it does.
    it will die an ignominious death. even its birth will be ignominious.
    i take no pleasure in that, by the way. i wish them all the best because a good service for the people is good for everyone. but this cannot succeed and it will not.

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