Judge bans UberX from Brussels
Just before the end of the year, a Flemish judge in charge of the dossier clarified her 2015 decision by banning the private chauffeur service, UberX, from Brussels in addition to the UberPop service made illegal two years ago. The law is clear, whatever the taxi service, drivers need a specific taxi license. Penalties will follow.
The story of Uber in Brussels has finally come to an end. Back in 2014, the Californian company started to offer ride-hailing services in the Belgian capital. Private individuals could transport people for a small fee (UberPop), without insurance or license. That sparked the fury in the taxicab community with Taxi Verts’ Michel Pêtre leading the way.
Professional license needed
After making UberPop illegal in 2015, the Brussels Region embarked on a new way to a ‘Taxi Plan’ lead by Pascal Smet (sp.a). For its part, the Californian company opened a new service called UberX in the capital, which employs private drivers with a limousine license.
“Are considered illegal all taxi activities where drivers do not have the authorisation provided for in the Article 3 of the 27 April 1995 order”, notes the 18th December’s judgement. In other words, only drivers with a taxi license – and a taxi light on the top of their cars – are allowed to professionally transport people in the capital.
‘The law has to be respected’
“The previous judgement planned for 10.000 euro penalty per illegal taxi run”, explains Taxi Verts’ CEO, Michel Pêtre, leader of the opposition against Uber, “we’ll go back to the judge asking for more. Maybe we’ll need 40 million euro of penalty for Uber to start respecting the judge’s decision.”
The taxi service boss points out that Uber used every legal trick to slow the court procedure down and that none are left at their disposal. “If you’re not in accord with the law, it can be changed. But for now, it has to be respected”, adds Mr Pêtre.
The boss of Taxi Verts continues by criticizing the government and the lack of commitment from politicians on this issue. “I’ve hoped for an equal solution. Minister Smet tried to do it with his ‘Taxi Plan’ but the government lacked courage and determination. Many fear the public’s discontent, all the more when elections are near”, explains the civil engineer.
Contacted by the newspaper LaLibre, Uber has yet to react on the judge’s decision. At the Mobility Minister Pascal Smet’s cabinet, the team is said to be analyzing the judgement.