The Walloon government has approved a draft decree to reform the taxi sector to open up the market and integrate innovations without deregulating the activity. The authorities aim to promote integrated mobility, treating the sector’s professionals fairly to guarantee quality and sustainable service, Walloon Mobility minister Philippe Henry (Ecolo) said.
In principle, with this taxi plan, the Walloon government is opening the door to e-taxis and platforms such as Uber, Bolt, and Heetch.
A red carpet for e-taxis
According to the minister, the reform intends to consider the new needs of consumers of transport services while preserving a service of general interest.
The arrival of new technologies will, therefore, be combined with a series of requirements, such as the availability of the service, its ease of use, safety, cost, quality, modernity, responsible nature, and the evaluation of the service and its transparency.
To guarantee the quality of the services offered by all operators, regardless of their operating methods and the tools they use to carry out their activity, a system of access to the profession will complement the license (in the case of taxi services) or the authorization (in the case of special purpose transport service) to operate.
This access to the profession will be granted to the operator after examining compliance with various conditions. The text also provides that electronic intermediation platforms must be transparent for the customer, who must be able to estimate the price of the journey in advance before confirming the pick-up.
Regarding safety, all drivers must have a certificate of competence, which must be displayed on board the vehicle. However, until now, this obligation only affected ‘taxi’ drivers. The draft decree must now be submitted to the sector’s stakeholders and the Data Protection Authority for their opinion.
Inspired by the Brussels taxi plan
The Brussels Region adopted two implementing decrees of the taxi ordinance in October. That ordinance, which came about with difficulty, creates a unified taxi sector with a common basic statute for cab stand taxis and street taxis. However, elaborating on the regulation of the status of Uber workers, in particular, was a stumbling block.
Apparently, the preliminary draft decree of the Walloon government is strongly inspired by the Brussels taxi plan and should allow applications such as Uber, Heetch, and Bolt to perform, “but it does not go as far as the Flemish decree in terms of liberalization,” the ministers’ cabinet said in September.