Uber drivers in Norway fear losing their license, or even their car

Key Points
  • Police in Oslo, Norway, are cracking down on Uber drivers
  • Drivers often ask riders to sit in the front so they don't get caught
  • Uber has struggled in the Nordics, with Norway, Sweden and Finland deeming the service illegal
Electric cars crowd the bus lane during the morning rush hour towards Oslo.
Pierre-Henry Deshayes | AFP | Getty Images

There's no shortage of Uber cars on the road in Oslo, Norway's capital city, but the region remains highly contested in the ongoing fight between between traditional taxi companies and the burgeoning ride-sharing industry.

Police, helped by the local association representing taxi companies, have cracked down in recent months on unlicensed drivers working for Uber's POP service, the company's most affordable option for riders.

To evade detection, drivers often ask for the rider to sit in the front, as I discovered during my trip to Oslo this week.

"The taxi companies represent a big monopoly in Norway," says Christin Staubo, a local resident who works in the tech industry in Oslo.

The UberPOP service is widely used in Oslo, and incorporates surge pricing during busy hours. Staubo said that Uber prices have increased in the past 9 months to become more comparable to the taxi companies.

Despite the prevalence of cars on the road, Uber drivers expressed fears to me that they would lose their license or even their car, if they get caught.

In 2015, local prosecutors interviewed by the Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv warned that Uber drivers should "not feel secure," despite Uber's communication team stressing that it's drivers operated within the framework that current laws allow.

Uber has struggled to roll out in the Nordics, as Norway, Sweden and Finland have all put up legal barriers to stop the service. In Denmark, Uber shut down its operation following the introduction of new taxi laws.

The embattled company is awaiting a decision from the European Union on whether it should be considered a transportation company or merely software.