UPDATED: Uber, the ride-sharing service currently active in Brussels, has denied it is to extend to Leuven and Namur in the near future, Belga reports.
According to the company, it has no such plans. The mistake appears to have been caused by the two cities appearing on some language versions of the company’s website which lists the cities where Uber rides are available.
Uber came to Belgium in 2014, and its road has been rocky ever since, as far as politicians and licensed taxis are concerned, although the public has welcomed the service with open arms. According to Belga, the news that Uber intended to expand to Leuven, and the surrounding area including Haacht, Diest, Landen and Oud-Heverlee caused panic among the city’s taxi drivers.
The news was greeted by a plea from environmental organisation Bond Beter Leefmilieu (BBL) calling on Uber to stock its new service with 100% electric vehicles, and to cooperate with public transport instead of competing.
BBL calls on the company to step in financially to help prospective drivers buy electric cars, as they have already done in London. The organisation also calls on local authorities in the areas concerned to adapt their local regulations “so that Uber does not have free rein to create air pollution and traffic jams”.
According to Laurien Spruyt, mobility expert at BBL, Uber threatens to undo positive moves already undertaken in other cities, including Leuven.
“We are working together with Antwerp, Leuven and Ghent on the greening of the taxi sector,” she said in a statement. “Uber threatens to undermine the efforts already made for better air quality. The company is able to specify which vehicles it allows into its app and which it does now. We are asking Uber to allow only electric vehicles, to ensure that their activities do not further damage the air quality in our cities.”