Mandatory 15-minute wait for an Uber in Flanders to be withdrawn
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Mandatory 15-minute wait for an Uber in Flanders to be withdrawn

One of the measures of the Flemish taxi decree is that anyone who orders a taxi will have to wait at least 15 minutes. Credit: Wikicommons

Flemish Minister for Mobility, Lydia Peeters, has announced that she will adjust the new Flemish taxi-decree that was introduced this year, which states that anyone ordering a taxi in Flanders has to wait at least 15 minutes to be picked up.

The Flemish taxi decree, which was intended to modernise the taxi sector, came into force on 1 January 2020 and states that anyone who orders a taxi, via phone, website or app, will have to wait at least 15 minutes before they will be picked up, reports De Tijd.

For ride-hailing app Uber, which only operates in Flanders around the airport in Zaventem, waiting times would “needlessly become three to four times longer,” said Maurits Schönfeld, general manager of Uber in the Benelux, reports De Standaard.

The 15-minute rule was initially intended to protect the taxi sector in the region around the airport from Uber. However, when the decree was drawn up, the general application of the rule – incorrectly – crept into the decree, according to the Minister.

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The rule is “an error that has slipped through the cracks,” said Peeters. “It cannot be the intention that the taxi and Uber users should be left out in the cold longer,” she said, adding that she would “adjust” the implementing decision of the decree on that point, but endorsed the general principles of the taxi decree.

However, the decree might stop Uber from fully enrolling its service in Flanders. “We were totally ready to come to Flanders and provide the best service there, but the new Flemish taxi decree will just scare Uber away,” said Fernando Redondo from the ABCL association representing some 700 Uber drivers, according to the Belga press agency.

The ABCL association will contest the measure at the Council of State, along with the measure banning drivers with a Walloon or Brussels licence from carrying out journeys at Brussels Airport and in the Flemish municipalities around the capital.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times