Economy

Uber Faces Tough Regulation In Hungary As Government Approves New Taxi Decree

The Hungarian government has approved a new taxi decree that will enter into force in January 2018 and also cover services ordered online, such as Uber, a development ministry official said. State secretary János Fónagy told a press conference on Friday that in line with the new regulations, taxis must not be older than 10 years and they must have two doors on each side. They must be equipped with at least Euro IV engines or electric engines, and air conditioning, he added.

The dispatch services that recently entered the market will only be allowed to operate if they work with taxis that meet the requirements and hold all necessary permits, Fónagy said. The decree is largely based on practical experiences gained from the rules introduced by local councils in Budapest affecting taxi services. Interest representation bodies of the taxi businesses have been involved in the preparation of the decree right from the start, he added. A new element in the regulations is that taxi drivers will be expected to pass a test every five years that shows they are up to date on new road regulations and on operating technical equipment.

The regulations also enable the authorities to act against “taxi hyenas” that harass and disturb passengers at airports, train stations and bus terminals, Fónagy said. Abusers could lose their licence for up to one year, he added. The decree gives taxi businesses two and a half years until the end of 2017 to prepare for meeting all the technical requirements. In response to a question, he said the new decree does not ban Uber but it specifies the conditions under which it can operate. Consultations were also held with Uber when the decree was being prepared, he added.

Popular car-sharing app Uber has raised the ire of the capital’s taxi drivers and has also come under the scrutiny of tax office NAV. Established taxi drivers have lobbied the government to issue a decree on regulating the market as quickly as possible to take into account the development of services such as Uber. Two weeks ago over 300 taxi drivers congregated in central Budapest to urge the National Assembly to adopt a taxi resolution and rules that apply equally to taxi firms and car-sharing apps.

via hungarymatters.hu and MTI photo: Zsolt Szigetváry – MTI