Brussels tightens rules on Collecto after sexual assault allegation
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    Brussels tightens rules on Collecto after sexual assault allegation

    A bus stop at Place Rogier, displaying the Collecto pick-up plaque © Brussels Mobility

    The Brussels regional government is to bring in new rules for the shared taxi service Collecto, following a complaint of sexual assault filed in November.

    Then, a woman complained she had been picked up by a driver claiming to be a Collecto vehicle, after which she was sexually assaulted. The man has still not been traced.

    Collecto is a shared taxi service running in Brussels seven days a week from 23.00 to 06.00. Passengers can be picked up at one of 200 Stib bus stops and taken anywhere in the region for a flat fee of €5, on condition that they be prepared to share the ride if necessary.

    The woman, a student at the Free University ULB, said in a Facebook post that she was picked up at a Collecto stop by a man driving a grey Citroen, locked in, driven to a strange location, manhandled and raped. She later filed a police complaint. In the meantime the post was shared more than 2,000 times.

    Minister-president Rudi Vervoort explained the new measures in a parliamentary answer to Clémentine Barzin (MR). He reminded her that Collecto works only with drivers from the taxi service Taxis Verts and that all Collecto cars must bear the logo of Taxi Verts and the official number of the driver. In the absence of both of those features, the car and driver are not connected to Collecto.

    Taxis Verts obtained a renewal of its licence to operate the Collecto service last month. The student reported that the fake driver was wearing a uniform of the public transport authority Stib. However a spokesperson for the Stib said the authority had not been informed about the case, and stressed that the transport authority is not connected to the Collecto service in any way, other than the fact that both use Stib bus stops as pick-up points.

    In future, he said, a customer will be able to fill in the licence number of the driver on the Collecto app, and find out more information about the driver. All official Collecto cars will be tracked by GPS, to allow a more rapid intervention in case of problems.

    He also made clear that Collecto has itself received no comments or suggestions from customers for improvements to the system. The changes to be applied originate from the government, he said.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times