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Government supports taxi drivers protesting Uber

Although the Hungarian government decided after a cabinet meeting yesterday to side with taxi drivers rather than the Hungarian operation of U.S-based ride-sharing application Uber, some drivers said they will continue to protest in Budapest until midnight tonight, according to reports. This is the fourth consecutive day that taxis have caused traffic slowdowns.

Taxi drivers install a banner late yesterday that reads: "We demand that steps be taken". (Photo: MTI/Zoltán Balogh)

The Hungarian government believes that taxi drivers demonstrating on the the most frequented streets in Budapest are in the right, state secretary for government communications Bence Tuzson told journalists following a cabinet meeting yesterday, Hungarian news agency MTI reported. The government agrees that strict and unified regulations that apply to all players must be drafted, the state secretary reportedly said.

Tuzson added that the government mandated the National Development Ministry to continue talks with the taxi drivers regarding long-term regulations, which will benefit everyone involved, and will include sanctions for those who break the rules, but he said it will not negotiate separately with Uber, nor will it invite them to talks with the taxi drivers, MTI reported.

Until such regulations are made, probably not for another month and a half at least, temporary measures will be necessary, Tuzson said. These should also include sanctions against those who break the rules currently in place, and could be imposed in the form of tax audits, he added.

Tuzson said cabinet negotiations were not about a ban, but about establishing unified conditions and applying strict regulations on all players regarding the transport of people, MTI reported. If Uber does not comply with the regulations, it could be banned from operating in Hungary, he added.

Uber said it welcomes the governmentʼs decision to create a new and modern regulatory environment, MTI reported.

The Hungarian Police reported late yesterday that it has approved the protests to continue until midnight tonight, according to MTI. Police officers will continue in assisting with traffic control at junctions where taxi drivers are demonstrating, the police reportedly added.

Transport for London abandoned a controversial plan yesterday that would have placed severe restrictions on ride-share apps such as Uber. This follows a three-month campaign by Uber to promote its services over Londonʼs black cab drivers who have held numerous protests against Uber in the past year.