The traditional taxi sector looked on Wednesday with bewilderment at what was going on in the Flemish Parliament. Minister of Mobility Lydia Peeters (Open VLD) had to explain how the brand new Flemish taxi decree – co-drafted by its predecessor Ben Weyts (N-VA) – broke the rule that there should be fifteen minutes between ordering a taxi via an app or website and the actual taxi ride. When that somewhat bizarre rule became known yesterday morning, it prompted a stream of scornful reactions. Former N-VA Chamber President, Siegfried Bracke, wondered on social media “which sick mind” had devised such an arrangement.
The result was obvious: Minister Peeters announced in parliament that the 15-minute rule would be abolished immediately. To the great relief of her party colleague Marino Keulen: “this brings us into line with the 21st century, with the rest of the civilized world.”
But the trade unions of the traditional taxi companies contradict this: “ordinary taxis – with a taxi meter – must have an (expensive) license and must adhere to certain rates, while Uber taxis have virtually no rules, not even in terms of rates . The agreed 15-minute rule was to avoid a taxi and price war between regular and Uber taxis. Disregarding the rule today as a mistake is complete nonsense ”, according to both Pierre Steenbergen (GTL) and Yves Toutenel (ACV Transcom).
For Uber fans – and the taxi company itself – the abolition is particularly good news. The company did not see an extension of its activities to Flanders if the 15-minute rule was maintained, and is now being served.
The traditional taxi sector – the taxis with a meter – does not, however, accept this course of action and goes to the Constitutional Court to have the Flemish taxi decree annulled.