Uber Taxi App's Lobbying Gimmick: Free Rides This Weekend

Ultimately, Uber Inc. wants to hook up amateur drivers with paying customers, but first it has to get past taxi industry.

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Haaretz
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A taxi at the Ben-Gurion International Airport (illustration)
A taxi at the Ben-Gurion International Airport (illustration)Credit: Nir Keidar
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Haaretz

Uber Inc., an app for booking taxi cabs, will be offering free rides in Israel from trained volunteers on Friday and Saturday. Why? To push its campaign to hook up non-professional drivers with paying customers, The Washington Post reports.

“We’ve decided to offer this one-time service for 48 hours so that the public could try peer-to-peer transportation, feel the experience and make up its own mind with regard to the issue at hand,” said Uber Israel manager Yoni Greifman.

In response to Uber's lobbying campaign, two Knesset members on Monday introduced a proposal enabling paid peer-to-peer rides. But the bill has an uphill battle ahead; Israel's tens of thousands of licensed taxi drivers oppose opening the market to amateur drivers.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz told a taxi drivers' convention in June, “We expect all parties operating in Israel to adhere to the country’s laws," adding that he would not lend his hand to damaging the already-struggling Israeli taxi industry.

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