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Budapest’s taxi demo ends as government promises changes

Taxi drivers demonstrating against the Hungarian operations of U.S.-based ride-sharing service Uber concluded yesterday, after representatives were received by State Secretary for Public Administration Gábor Czepek and State Secretary for Public Transport László Tasó to negotiate on the issue, according to reports.

Taxis leave site of demonstrations yesterday after protest concludes. (Photo: MTI/Zoltán Balogh)

“At the end of the talks, the organizers made a promise to end their protests which have caused traffic restrictions today,” according to a statement issued by the National Development Ministry, Hungarian news agency MTI reported.

The ministry reportedly stressed that the government stands on the side of tax-paying taxi drivers who abide by the relevant rules. Taxi services may be provided only according to identical conditions laid down in a government decree, MTI cited the statement.

The ministry invited taxi drivers to send proposals for the possible changes, and it is scheduled to continue talks with taxi drivers next week, MTI reported, however, the government said earlier that it will not negotiate with Uber on the issue.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said this morning in his fortnightly interview on state-owned Kossuth radio that “the debate of taxi drivers and Uber is extraordinarily exciting”, as it is interesting to see how modern technology affects traditional business models. The prime minister said people rightfully expect the government to create regulations that apply to everyone, noting that taxi drivers have stricter regulations than any other transport service. He promised that lawmakers would make changes to regulations that will apply to all players in the market, Hungarian online daily reported.

Taxi drivers demonstrated for four days in Budapestʼs most frequented junctions demanding that Uber be shut down by the government, as taxi drivers claim the service is illegal and considerably fewer regulations apply to Uber drivers than to taxi drivers, enabling Uber to offer lower prices as a result.