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Americas

France to ban car-share start-ups from using apps after taxi protests

media Paris taxi drivers protest against Uber in January AFP/François Guillot

France is to ban car-share start-ups from using mobile phone apps to attract fares in an attempt to resolve a dispute between taxi drivers and companies like US-based Uber, which they claim are threatening their livelihoods.

After months off strikes and protests by taxi drivers, the French parliament on Thursday voted for a bill that aims to establish ground rules for what it terms “transport cars with driver” – previously referred to in France as “tourism cars with driver” – and “modernise the taxi profession”.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Angry cabbies have tried to stop the spread of Uber and other companies, which allow customers to locate and order cars through apps, in France and many other countries.

A Europe-wide day of action saw traffic blocked in several European countries last month and New York’s cabbies have been fighting the development for months, with car-sharing start-up Lyft being banned from operating in the city on Wednesday.

The bill, moved by Socialist MP Thomas Thevenoud who was named mediator in the conflict by previous prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in February, would ban non-taxi paid cars from being traced on apps, while allowing registered taxis to be, and forbids them from park near airports or stations while waiting for a fare.

The modernisation drive includes proposals to allow local authorities to decide a colour that would identify taxis in their area and to oblige taxis to instal terminals for bankers’ cards.

It would also stop the sale of licences, which are issued free by the authorities but may currently be sold on for as much as high as 200,000 euros.

The right-wing UMP and the hard-left Left Front abstained on the bill, which must now go to the Senate.

"To ban a technology in 2014 is absurd," commented UMP MP Lionel Tardy.

The development of app-inspired car-sharing companies is partly due to a flood of cheap credit issued by central banks in an effort to revive American and European economies.

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