Ridesharing service Uber has been fined €800,000 ($907,000 US) in a Paris criminal court for running its UberPop service illegally, despite being banned by a 2014 law that was subsequently challenged and then upheld last September. The UberPop service, similar to the company's US service, pairs non-professional drivers and users, which ran afoul of the law. Meanwhile, in Seattle, the company has begun a new Scheduled Rides service that allows users to schedule a ride from 30 minutes to 30 days in advance.
Taxi unions and other professional drivers successfully challenged the UberPop service by telling courts and legislators that it undermined the industry, since UberPop drivers did not have to carry commercial-level insurance, have any professional training, or qualify for a commercial driver's license. In addition to the $907,000 fine against the company itself, two of Uber France's executives -- Western Europe General Manager Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty and CEO Thibaud Simphal were individually fined €30,000 ($34,000) and €20,000 ($22,640).
However, the fines were all later reduced to half the original amounts, and the court also rejected any jail time for the executives. In addition, the ruling ignored a recommendation from the state prosecutor that the pair be barred from running any companies in France for a period of five years, reports
French TV news channel BFM.
Uber in the US, however, has plans to rapidly expand the Scheduled Rides service
, which brings the ridesharing company ever-closer to taking on the idential functions of a taxi company, risking further regulation of services like Uber in the future. The company said it implemented the feature in response to requests from business travelers. "we're excited to give priority access to riders who have Business Profiles, or are linked to their company's Uber for Business account," the company said in a statement.
Rival Lyft has also just started implementing a similar scheduled-ride option in San Francisco, though Uber has said it plans to expand to other cities with high numbers of business travelers. For the time being, however, the trial program is limited to the Seattle area.