Uber, the American taxi hailing app the is dragging the industry kicking and screaming from the dark ages, appears set to score a rare victory in its war on middle ages taxi hailing.
Belgian Mobility Minister Pascal Smet has put out a plan to fully legalize the service, which is still technically illegal in Belgium despite the widespread popularity of the UberPop ride-sharing app, which connects travellers with drivers who are not regulated taxi drivers.
In addition to over 13 lawsuits statside, Uber has faced issues in France, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain. Belgium looks set to be the first country to overturn its existing ban on the service and bring it within legal regulation.
Smet’s plan — which includes a complete overhaul of current normal taxi rules from 2016 — has a good deal of political support. Sources from liberal party Mouvement Réformateur said they would back the Flemish socialists’ move and had long supported it.
Uber has over 700 drivers in Brussels, some of whom have been the victims of violent attacks from traditional taxi drivers who see them as a threat.
According to insiders familiar with Smet’s proposal, Uber drivers would be liable for tax on their earnings but would be free to operate so long as it was not their main job.
This is exactly the type of approach every single state, county and city in our country need to take with Uber. There is nothing dangerous or inherently wrong with Uber. The negative headlines come from ancient taxi monopolies who are loath to see competition in their markets.
Uber, in fact, makes taxis more accountable and safer. There is a permanent record of who drove whom, to where and in what vehicle. Uber holds its drivers to a higher standard than your average cabbie and makes communicating feedback about drivers easy and painless. Gone are the days of asking for a business card and calling into a switchboard to complain or inquire about lost items. If you forget your purse or laptop just text your driver. Simple. Painless.
It’s sad that a truly innovative company like Uber, which indisputably makes America a safer, better and more efficient place must waste hundreds of millions of dollars fighting red tape and bureaucracy.
Our country was founded on being a place that is easy to do business. Today we should look at Belgium and reflect on our founding principles. If we don’t, we’ll risk ending up just like the country we fled from all those years ago.