Uber Recruiting Drivers in Israel, Before Law Permits

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The Uber app is seen on a smartphone past cabs waiting for clients near the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, on December 9, 2014.Credit: AFP

Uber, the controversial ride-sharing service, is starting to sign up private drivers for its service even though Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz has yet to approve the service – and may not any time soon with elections approaching.

Seeking to step up the pressure on regulators, Uber said on Wednesday it had begun recruiting candidates to join its UberX service as paid drivers to register on its Internet site. The company conducted a free trial of the service about a month ago, but it remains illegal in Israel to charge for rides if you are not a licensed taxi driver.

Uber’s service is available in Israel to order rides in taxis, but the company has encountered strong opposition from taxi drivers to its plans to enlist private drivers to take passengers for a fee.

“After operating UberX for free over 48 hours, we received a lot of responses both from users who enjoyed the service and want to travel for the cheaper prices it offers, and from drivers who want to work for Uber X,” said Uber Israel CEO Yoni Griefman.

Drivers interested in signing up for the day when its service may be legal in Israel must be at least 23 years old, have at least 12 years of schooling and three years of driving experience. Candidates will have to undergo what Uber says is a stringent background check, including a medical examination, and show proof they have no criminal record or any “major” moving violations.

Uber has been banned from operating in the Indian capital of New Delhi after a female passenger accused one of its drivers of rape. Uber had employed the driver even though he had been arrested on allegations of sexual assault three years ago.

In addition to requirements for drivers, their cars also have to meet minimum standards – less than 10 years old, with back doors, in excellent condition and has passed the annual test. Uber said it would not test cars itself.

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