Taxify – A ‘cheaper, more ethical’ Uber rival launches in Paris

Uber is about to face stiff competition in France with the launch on Thursday of Taxify, a car-hailing app that claims it will be 10 percent cheaper than its American rival - and will pay its drivers more.

Taxify - A 'cheaper, more ethical' Uber rival launches in Paris
Photo: AFP
The Estonian start-up, which has rapidly spread across Europe, Africa and the Middle East since its launch four years ago, says it has more than 2,000 drivers ready to hit the streets of Paris this week and has a list of 3,000 more waiting to sign up.
That will still be far less than the thousands currently working for Uber in the French capital, but Taxify says it will be pushing hard to quickly provide a better alternative to the US behemoth and aims to conquer a third of the market within a year.
The company is financially backed by Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride-sharing app that forced Uber out of China.
“Paris is essentially dominated by one American company,” CEO Markus Villig told AFP.
“We want to prove that European companies can also come in and gain a significant market share and show some competition,” said Villig who founded Taxify when he was a 19-year old student.
It will provide an almost-identical service to Uber and other ride-sharing apps but promises lower fares.
“Taxify will take 15 percent commission (from drivers), while Uber takes 25 percent,” said Taxify’s 23-year-old CEO and co-founder, Markus Villig.
“That will enable drivers to earn more and be more happy. And a happy driver makes for a happy customer,” he told Le Parisien newspaper.
Uber's drivers in Paris have protested in the past about the treatment from their bosses, notably in October 2015 when the company announced a 20 percent fare reduction in a bid  to fight off competition from other ride hailing apps.
“Uber's near monopoly allows it to play around with the flat rate without a care for the livelihoods of its chauffeurs,” Mohammed Rabi, spokesman of the Uber drivers union said at the time. 
Taxify’s 23-year-old CEO and co-founder, Markus Villig.
Taxify already operates in 19 countries around the world and claims a total of around three million users, and France is now the next country on its hit list.
“Paris is one of the biggest markets in the world (and) it is extremely important for us to be there,” said Villig, whose firm plans to launch other French cities over the coming months.
But French taxi drivers, who have fought bitter battles with Uber, plan to throw a spanner in the works of the Estonian firm.
The National Taxi Drivers Union (UNT) has said it plans to file a legal complaint that argues that the name of the new app – Taxify – may confuse customers and lead them to think they are hailing a regular taxi.
Taxify had a rocky start when it launched in London last month – it was quickly ordered to suspend operations there  in response to an investigation launched by the city’s transport authority.
Transport for London said the company lacked the proper private hire licences to operate in the city but Taxify has appealed and as vowed to be back online as soon as possible.


Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.