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One More Try: Why Is Uber Re-launching in Finland?

People in Finland will be able to hail a taxi from their smartphones again.
People in Finland will be able to hail a taxi from their smartphones again. | © JESHOOTScom / Pixabay
After a year-long absence, popular ridesharing app Uber will be re-launching in Finland after being banned in the country since July 2017. A recent change in Finnish transport law means that the app is now legal again within Finland and Uber drivers can return to the roads.

Why was Uber shut down in Finland?

Uber was initially banned in Finland one year ago after a police investigation found that it was breaking Finnish law. Since Uber drivers were not gaining taxi permits, due to the application process being long and difficult, they were accepting money from passengers illegally and were forced to hand over their earnings to the government. Uber’s Finnish division felt that it was best to shut down rather than appeal against the court system.

Hailing a taxi by phone © Mark Warner / Flickr

Uber returns to Finland

This ban turned out to only be temporary, however. In July 2018 Finnish transport legislation was overhauled, which got rid of the cap on the number of taxi licences the government can issue each year. It also ended fare restrictions and quotas for how much taxi drivers can take in a year.

A bicycle taxi in Helsinki © Lauri Rantala / Flickr

This means that not only is Uber legal again under Finnish law but drivers have more freedom to work part time and earn a side income around other commitments. It also means that people in the Helsinki region have access to cheaper travel, especially to the Helsinki-Vantaa airport, which can cost over €50 by regular taxi.

Part of the reason for the law change was to accommodate the new wave of ridesharing apps, such as Uber, which are quickly taking the place of traditional taxis, despite the controversy this has caused amongst taxi drivers who are seeing a decline in their income. Uber hopes that other countries where their app has been banned or restricted will make similar changes, benefiting both passengers and drivers.

The Uber app on a smartphone © freestocks-photos / Pixabay

The return of Uber to Finland has already been welcomed by passengers looking for cheaper fares. Uber Nordics general manager Joel Jarvinen told Reuters that the app had been opened a quarter of a million times in Helsinki since August, even when Uber wasn’t even operating there.