Over the past year, taxi associations in Italy?s biggest cities have joined their European counterparts in protesting the Silicon Valley-based company, Uber, which links clients to a car rental with driver service through an app available on smartphones. Taxi associations argue that Uber is not bound by the same laws and taxes that govern licensed taxis and should be banned.
The app has been in operation in Milan and Rome since 2013. However, the fight against Uber has taken an unusual turn in the Lombard capital with the approval of a city bylaw allowing only those with Italian citizenship the possibility of acquiring a taxi license.
Many argue, however, that the bylaw is discriminatory. ?Making Italian citizenship an obligatory requirement for those wanting to drive taxis in Milan is anachronistic and discriminatory,? wrote the Association of Judicial Studies on Immigration, in a letter to Milan mayor Giuliano Pisapia. The city council also extended the requirement to the entire public transport sector, making Italian citizenship obligatory for all employees.
Meanwhile, the national government is working on legislation aimed at regulating the entire public transport sector. Expected in August 2014, Italy?s transport minister Maurizio Lupi says the legislation will provide clearer rules for online and offline car-sharing and public transport services, including the Uber App. It will also ban the newest service offered by Uber, called Uber Pop, which allows any person, even those without a legal taxi or car rental and driver license, to offer rides for a fee.