02:49 GMT +322 September 2019
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    Pop! Sweden Outlaws Uber's Low-Cost Car-Pooling Service

    © AFP 2019 / Mark Ralston
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    Yesterday, in a controversial court decision, ride-hailing service UberPOP was dealt yet another painful blow and announced suspension of its activity in Sweden following a ruling deeming its nonprofessional drivers as illegal.

    The US-founded Uber has promoted its low-cost offshoot as a car-sharing service, allowing drivers to participate without proper taxi licenses. However, Swedish courts, beholden to their need to regulate every part of their economy, showed no leniency for Uber or the 30 individuals who were convicted of operating a taxi without a license.

    "It feels really sad that people have been affected by all this. Uber has been trying to support them the best way we can," Uber's manager in Sweden Alok Alström told newspaper Dagens Nyheter on Wednesday after confirming that the controversial service finally would be scrapped.

    According to Uber's own figures, over the past three months, the low-cost service involved some 5,000 drivers and was used by 100,000 passengers.

    By Uber's own admission, the service will remain active until May 18. In the same statement, the company responded tersely against Sweden's current legislation.

    "Our pilot service has successfully tested carpooling in Sweden, <…> but the government's resistance to regulate car-sharing leads to an even greater uncertainty and pressure on users of our service," Alström said in the statement, citing a substantial demand for car-sharing in the Nordic country.

    Although the company is keen to return to the Swedish market, the outlook seems rather dim at present. On top of adverse court rulings, last year's study by Swedish Radio suggested that three out of ten of Uber's drivers were dodging taxes.

    Earlier, Uber was forced to suspend its services in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Belgium.

    While protests from the most faithful Uber users are expected, the Swedish Taxi Association, who was threatened by the startup, welcomed the courts archaic decision to scrap UberPOP in the Nordic nation.

    "We think the decision is natural considering the court rulings and the pending tax issues," its Director Claudio Skubla said in a statement.

    However, San Francisco-based company's more expensive UberX service, which uses professionally licensed drivers, will continue operating in Sweden.

    Tags:
    taxi drivers, Taxi, Sveriges Radio, Dagens Nyheter, Uber, Scandinavia, Sweden
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