Hungarian Taxi Drivers Demand Uber Ban in Budapest Protest

  • Drivers say Uber shouldn't be exempt from taxi regulation
  • Government to discuss taxi conflict at cabinet meeting

Hungarian cab drivers blocked traffic in Budapest, demanding authorities ban Uber Technologies Inc. after the ride-sharing service has grabbed market share in the capital.

Dozens of cabs partially blocked traffic at two points downtown on Monday, prompting police to secure the area. Drivers said changes to rules forcing them to invest in exchange for raising fares, including phasing out older cars and painting taxis yellow, made them uncompetitive against Uber drivers who don’t have to meet the regulations and charge less.

“Our main demand is that authorities immediately ban Uber,” said Geza Gottlieb, who spoke on behalf of the demonstrating drivers. “This is like trying to fight with our hands tied behind our backs.”

Uber, the app-based ride-sharing company, has disrupted traditional taxi companies’ business model across the globe. European Union countries have been no exception. In June, drivers in France staged violent demonstrations against Uber, prompting the government to demand ask courts to outlaw the company’s low-cost UberPop service. Spanish and Belgian judges have also asked the EU’s Court of Justice to rule on whether Uber should be regulated as a taxi provider.

Premier Viktor Orban’s cabinet will discuss the issue at its weekly meeting on Wednesday, Janos Lazar, minister in charge of the prime minister’s office, said according to a statement posted on the government’s website on Monday.

Uber-drivers don’t meet Budapest’s taxi regulations, though city authorities have neither the “regulatory nor physical possibilities to ban” the company, Mayor Istvan Tarlos said in an e-mailed statement. Last May, the Economy Ministry said the tax authority would inspect “every single” Uber driver and fine them as much as 200,000 forint ($691) for violations.

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