Bad news for taxi drivers: a court has just ruled that Uber drivers are not in fact involved in criminal activity, striking down charges pressed against 33 Uber drivers by a Taxi Renters’ Union, which represents taxi drivers who do not own their own vehicle.
“The company does not incur in any crime [nor] complicate transport [in the City.] There may be administrative infringements and traffic offenses, but nor crimes,” said City Judge Alberto Zelaya in his ruling, adding that despite the number of Uber drivers being charged, they did not affect the “normal transit in the city of Buenos Aires” to warrant a legal ban. Ultimately, the Uber drivers are involved in a “legal commercial activity,” Zelaya wrote.
Since Uber was launched in Argentina this year, taxi drivers have held demonstrations and even gone on “hunts” for Ubers. The City of Buenos Aires government has been adamantly against Uber from the start and considers the service to be illegal. Police and traffic cops perform random checks on Uber vehicles and local credit cards are blocked from processing Uber payments (although Argentines have found ways around the restrictions).
“Beyond the unrest that Uber’s appearance has wrought, the concrete and real [issue] is that porteños’ (Buenos Aires local residents’) lives have not been affected by an alteration in the regularity nor the efficiency of public [or private] transport [due to Uber],” continued the ruling.
“Everything seems to revolve around the unahppiness of the plaintiffs in the appearance of a new competitor,” adds the ruling. “However, everything also indicates that this criminal court is not the appropriate location to resolve this conflict.”
The law firm representing the taxi union has already appealed Zelaya’s ruling. So this is far from the end of the taxis vs. Uber saga.