Hungary Vows Tighter Rules on Uber Cars to Quell Taxi Protests

Hungary’s government pledged to tighten rules on taxi services, saying it backed demands of cab drivers who shut down traffic this week in protest against competition from Uber Technologies Inc.

The cabinet will work out ways to fine drivers who don’t meet the more stringent regulations, including for tax offenses, Bence Tuzson, a spokesman for the government, told reporters on Wednesday. The cabinet is asking taxi drivers to suspend their protests in the meantime, Tuzson said.

Taxi drivers partially blocked a main thoroughfare in Budapest for a third day on Wednesday. Drivers said they’ve been forced to invest in new cars and paint taxis yellow in exchange for higher fares, which has made them uncompetitive against Uber drivers who don’t have to meet the same regulations and charge less. The Economy Ministry already pledged last April to probe Uber’s operations to create a level playing field.

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

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