The French government on Saturday launched the beta version of a new app – Le Taxi – which allows users to book a cab using the internet and geo-localisation.
The move comes as a result of the Thévenoud Law from October, in an attempt to resolve conflict between private minicabs and France's cabbies.
Users of Le Taxi will be able to “e-hail” a cab and then rate their experience, explained the government online (in English as well).
Sound familiar? Of course it does – this is just how it works with Uber, the main competitor to French taxis in a battle that has seen violent protests across the country from cab drivers who are furious to be losing business to the California-based company.
The government believes that the Le Taxi is the solution, and that its app can outpace Uber thanks to the sheer number of potential drivers who can sign up.
Indeed, the government hopes to sign up some 50,000 of the nation's 57,000 cab drivers, which would make the app a far cry more popular than Uber which only operates in eight cities in France, boasting just 10,000 drivers in Paris compared to the 17,700 cab drivers.
But it remains unclear exactly how many taxi drivers will use the service, which will be fully rolled out at the end of the year.
Liam Boogar, the CEO of Rude Baguette, France's start-up blog, is convinced the tech idea won't work.
“It's not enough to be just a copy of a concept,” he toldThe Local.
“The big issue they'll have to deal with is that so many customers will say that they're already in the habit of just opening the Uber app.”
He noted as well that the idea might not take off if cabbies are reluctant to share their data with the government, adding that the rating system could be a put off to drivers with a notorious reputation for being unfriendly and taking the longer routes for unsuspecting passengers.
Uber drivers, meanwhile, are busying themselves an app of their own that has been put together in protest of their employers. Paris-based drivers are angry at the recently introduced fare reductions of up to 20 percent, with the minimum fare now dropped from €8 to €5 (from $9.10 to $5.70).
A spokesperson said that the new app, called VTC cab (“VTC” is how France refers to private minicabs), is “made by the VTCs, for the VTCs, and run by the VTCs”.
The app was created thanks to a €130,000 grant, courtesy of 30 members of France's VTC Association.