It was with pride and perhaps a touch of self-importance that Uber announced, in November 2014, that the U.S. company had made its way to yet another country. "Budapest, Your Uber Has Arrived! Copy" read a press release announcing the ride-hailing app's spread to Hungary.
Now, 18 months later, Hungary's government is looking to perhaps unceremoniously oust Uber from the country. It is proposing legislation that would further penalize unlicensed drivers and ban apps like Uber for as long as one year, the Associated Press reported.
Janos Fonagy, the state secretary at the Ministry of National Development, described Uber as "consciously and cynically breaking every Hungarian law" and said that the goal of the legislation was to make what Uber does — using an app to link passengers seeking rides and drivers hoping to provide them — "impossible."
Budapest taxi drivers have held multiple protests and demonstrations against Uber and unlicensed driving in recent months, including as recently as last week.
Hundreds of drivers deliberately drove slowly down one of the city's main arteries Tuesday, causing traffic jams in an effort to draw attention to the fact that taxi drivers pay taxes and have to spend money to adhere to regulations. Those driving illegally, without permits, are eating up at least half of the market share for passengers, drivers said.
Geza Gottlieb, an organizer of the protest, told the Associated Press the government has done little to crack down on unlicensed drivers and vehicles.
Taxi drivers protested in a similar fashion in January, blocking traffic at a critical juncture in Budapest and creating major delays. Last week, they called on the government to ban Uber.
"We demand that Uber, as an app or as an activity, cease to exist," taxi driver Zsolt Gelencser told the Associated Press. "They are applying a double standard. Nothing applies to them, while everything applies to us."
At the time, Uber reported having 1,200 drivers and 80,000 customers in Budapest. As of Monday, a blurb on its website continued to call for full- and part-time drivers in Budapest.
"Earn money on your own terms," the site reads. Its independent contractor options "give you the flexibility to work as much or as little as you want. Uber takes care of all the details so you can focus on driving your car when it works for you."