Brigitte Grouwels, Brussels’ minister of public works and transport, already made it clear that it wouldn’t be allowing Uber to operate any of its taxi industry-threatening services in the city, and she seems to be hellbent on keeping her word.
In retaliation, Uber gifted everyone in Brussels one week of free service using UberPOP.
During a coincidental check, two UberPOP drivers had their vehicles seized by the police this morning, for not adhering to the relevant laws on taxi services.
UberPOP is different from most of the services Uber offers globally, in the sense that it’s actually not a way to book cars driven by professional drivers like the regular Uber or the cheaper UberX service.
Instead, Uber lets individual sign up to become a driver, and acts as a facilitator for potential ‘clients’ to look up drivers and book rides (at a lower rate than ‘real’ Uber cars, of course).
Brussels’ lawmakers want to make it impossible for Uber even to offer its watered-down transportation service.
Regulators in Brussels’ taxi industry have formally requested Uber to stop operating its services in Brussels entirely, something the Silicon Valley-based company appears to be intent on ignoring.
Uber rep Susanne Stulemeijer told De Tijd that it will back the two drivers as the issue gets caught up in Belgium’s complicated legal system, which the company said it was thoroughly examining at the moment. Uber says it’s received a lot of positive feedback from drivers and passengers alike since it launched its service in Brussels last week, and appears to have no intentions of terminating its operations in the city.
According to various media reports, Uber has claimed ‘hundreds of drivers’ have signed up for the service in Brussels so far, with more than 1,000 passengers sharing rides in the week after its debut.
The authorities will now watch the Belgian company’s activities more closely.