Uber to Suspend Ride-Hailing Service in Greece Due to Stricter Regulations

The rules specify that trips must start and end at specific locations.

byStephen Edelstein|

Uber will suspend ride-hailing service in Greece following the passage of legislation that imposes stricter regulations. It's the latest in a series of clashes between Uber and regulators around the world.

"We have to assess if and how we can operate within this new framework and so will be suspending UberX in Athens from next Tuesday until we can find an appropriate solution," an Uber blog post said. "We hope to work with all local stakeholders to find a way to enable Greeks to enjoy the benefits of modern technologies like Uber."

Uber operates two types of transportation service in the Greek capital of Athens. UberX is similar to the ride-hailing services the company operates in the U.S. and other markets, while UberTaxi allows users to book local taxis. UberTaxi will continue to operate for the time being.

The new regulations require each trip to end at a partner company's headquarters or parking lot, according to Reuters, so riders can't take a car between any two points. The new legislation also calls for the creation of a digital registry of ride-hailing services and passengers.

Uber already faces stricter regulations in Greece than it does in other countries. UberX drivers have to be employed by so-called "fleet partners," such as car-rental companies or tourist agencies, and their cars can be no more than seven years old. Licensed taxi drivers can use cars up to 22 years old, according to Reuters.

Uber claims more than 450,000 people have booked trips in Athens since the company launched service there in 2015.

As in many other countries, Uber has faced opposition from taxi drivers, who fear loss of business. One would think the creation of UberTaxi, which employs said drivers, and the new regulations would mollify them. But Athenian customers are upset about the potential loss of ride-hailing services. Reuters reports that tens of thousands of them signed a petition circulated by local ride-hailing service Beat calling for leniency.

Greece shows that regulating ride-hailing services is still a touchy subject. Taxi drivers don't want to lose business to a company providing essentially the same service with fewer regulations, while passengers don't want to lose the convenience of ride hailing because of rules that are too strict. But with the European Union's highest court ruling that companies like Uber should be treated like taxi operators, the pendulum seems to be swinging toward stricter regulations.