- Daily & Weekly newsletters
- Buy & download The Bulletin
- Comment on our articles
Uber crippled under forced adherence to limousine legislation
Uber drivers are required by law to book rides lasting a minimum of three hours, and they are not allowed to do so via their mobile phones. The announcement by the Brussels regional government essentially cripples the taxi service, which has a long history of problems in the capital.
In order to avoid being shut down entirely years ago as an unregulated taxi service, Uber stopped its UberPop service in Brussels but continued operating under UberX and the higher-end UberBlack. This allowed it to operate under legislation that applies to limousine services, with its drivers considered as chauffeurs.
Both those services, however, work with the app – the basis of all Uber services. While the regulations allow customers to use the app, they do not allow drivers to use the app’s geo-location technology to pick them up. This essentially renders Uber inoperable.
‘Incomprehensible,’ says Uber
On top of that, drivers must be booked for a minimum of three hours, also in keeping with limousine regulations. Any Uber driver caught not conforming to the rules risks their car being confiscated.
According to Brussels minister-president Rudi Vervoort, these regulations apply to all limousine services, and Uber has simply ignored them for years. The region is now calling Uber to order. “The company uses the limousine system in order to get around the law, so it has to respect that regulation,” he told RTBF.
An Uber spokesperson said that this legislation is being investigated by the Council of State and told La Libre Belgique that it is “incomprehensible that measures are being taken against 2,000 drivers”. Drivers for Uber do not work for the company itself but are self-employed.
Photo ©Paul-Henri Verlooy/BELGA