Taxi drivers in Hungary’s capital, Budapest, protested against the ride-hailing app Uber, due to its growing market share amid new regulations that have pushed rates of traditional taxis higher than Uber’s.
More than 100 taxis blocked traffic in downtown Budapest as drivers demanded a ban on Uber and other ride-hailing apps, according to local media. Drivers said the new city rules forced them to invest in new cars and to paint taxis yellow, among other measures which made them uncompetitive against Uber drivers who didn’t have to meet those regulations and had fewer overheads.
"We stand up for our rights and demand an end to this lawlessness," the protest organizers said in the statement cited by Reuters. "We demand that the Uber application be switched off. Just get it done, period," the drivers added. The protest expanded to a full blockade by mid-afternoon Monday after talks with city and government officials did not yield immediate results, according to media reports.
The Hungarian government said it put the issue on its agenda for a Wednesday meeting, and will consider all proposals.
Budapest’s Mayor Istvan Tarlos said in a statement Monday that while Uber-drivers don’t meet Budapest’s taxi regulations, city authorities have neither the “regulatory nor physical possibilities” to ban the company.
Ride-hailing apps like Uber have proved to be a disruptive force in the taxi industry as they circumvent the traditional business model which requires professional drivers to pay heavy licensing fees to drive cabs. Uber has faced similar protests in many cities across the world where it continues to dodge regulatory curbs by insisting it is not a taxi service.