Brussels’ taxi unions voted on Thursday to give the government until September 1st to begin jailing Uber drivers, or face gridlock from protesting taxi drivers.
The Brussels Minister of Mobility, Pascal Smet, has proposed plans to legitimize the company’s presence by making its drivers liable for taxes, among other requirements similar to the city’s taxi drivers.
Uber drivers may only perform the service part-time, will not be able to use waiting spots or bus lanes like taxis can, must have customer insurance and pass a yearly vehicle inspection.
Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium, Alexander De Croo, sees the new rules as a way to increase competition for Brussel’s only two taxi firms, while also answering some of the complaints by taxi unions against Uber.
The new plan will attempt to “Uberize” taxis through the development of an app for hailing traditional taxis, as well as eliminating a yearly tax on taxis. In essence, both Uber and taxi companies will be brought towards operating under similar conditions.
The move is in contrast to France’s recent attitude toward the ride-sharing company, demanding it cease services in there.
France banned the use of UberPop after experiencing gridlock and vandalized Uber vehicles caused by upset taxi drivers.
UberPop offers lower-priced fares because its drivers are not required to have professional licenses, which require 250 hours of training to attain. France is making plans similar to Brussels, with proposals of its own electronic availability register for taxi companies that will mimic the Uber app.
Uber is still working through its own issues in the U.S., as recent news of its drivers having failed background checks in San Francisco came to light. The firm responded with claims that its screening process is as effective as that used by taxi companies, and at times more so.
The company currently operates in 57 countries and has a value estimated at over $40 billion.