Taxi drivers block central Budapest all day in protest against Uber

Updated: 2016-01-19 09:31


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Taxi drivers block central Budapest all day in protest against Uber

Taxis block a main road in Budapest's city centre, Hungary, January 18, 2016. Taxi drivers were protesting against the online taxi-hailing service Uber, demanding authorities to ban the service, according to local media. [Photo/Agencies]

BUDAPEST - Budapest taxi drivers blocked Budapest thoroughfares all day on Monday protesting against the ride sharing service Uber that can be hailed using a smartphone application.

Organizers said on Facebook that about 140 vehicles took part in the protest and were demanding that Uber be banned in Hungary.

The trigger for the demonstration was a government regulation setting taxi fees for traditional taxi companies, which are higher than Uber's.

Janos Lazar, chief of the prime minister's office, told a news conference on Monday afternoon that the cabinet would discuss the taxi issue at its Wednesday meeting.

Taxi representatives spent Monday negotiating with the National Transport Authority, the National Economy Ministry, that National Tax and Tariff Bureau and with Uber's offices. They also met with Budapest mayor Istvan Tarlos, but reported that they had made no headway and would continue the protest.

The drivers argue that Uber is apparently exempted from rules taxi companies must abide by. Neither its vehicles nor its drivers are subjected to the scrutiny of official taxis, they say, meaning that neither their tires nor their drivers' health is monitored. In addition, Uber was banned from using the smartphone application by a government decree, but continues to use it anyway, they argue.

It is not known if the taxis will continue the protest on Tuesday.