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Two Uber taxis seized in Brussels

12:40 05/03/2014

Two taxis belonging to the alternative cab firm Uber were seized in the Brussels district of Elsene on Monday for operating without a valid taxi licence, transport minister Brigitte Grouwels confirmed. Two weeks ago, Grouwels warned that the new service, by which members of the public can book a cab using a smartphone app, risked seizures if it began operating in Brussels. 

“The drivers have not passed an exam, they are not in line with official tariffs, and the vehicles do not conform to our regulations,” the minister said.
The two taxis were discovered operating for Uber during a spot-check. Unlike licensed Brussels taxis, Uber vehicles have no identifying characteristics, such as the chequerboard stripe down the side of the vehicle or the taxi sign fixed permanently to the roof.
Uber was founded in San Francisco in 2009, initially offering high-end cars for taxi hire but later branching out into a wide range of other vehicles. Customers reserve a cab by text message or via an app.

Brussels only permits rides for hire by licensed taxi drivers. The Brussels prosecutor’s office will now decide on the next step in the case – whether to file a legal complaint against Uber or to return the two confiscated vehicles. 

Written by Alan Hope