Ride-sharing services such as those provided by Uber or Taxify may be banned in the Romanian capital, according to a draft decision that is to be debated in the next meeting of the Bucharest General Council (CGMB).
Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea met on Monday, December 4, with representatives of the Confederation of Authorized Operators and Carriers from Romania (COTAR), the main organization lobbying against companies offering passenger transport services via online platforms, such as Uber or Taxify.
During the meeting, COTAR representatives have once again complained about “the unfair competition practiced by online app systems offering illegal taxi services,” reads a press release from Bucharest City Hall. The mayor ensured them that the Municipality will take all the necessary measures so that all taxi drivers in the capital respect the law.
“We will promote in the next meeting of the Bucharest General Council a new draft decision that will establish clear standards and rules for all those who provide taxi services in Bucharest, so that both Bucharesters and tourists can use these services with confidence, and safely, enjoying the same quality of taxi transport as in other major European capitals,” Firea said.
The new regulation will prohibit all forms of taxi services that do not fall within the provisions of Law no. 38/2003 on taxi services and car rental, the mayor also said. She added: “I announce all those carrying out taxi activities that we will make sure, through the specific departments, that this regulation will be fully respected.”
Gabriela Firea also stressed that “people who practice this activity illegally do not guarantee the safety of citizens and are not subject to any legal control.”
Under the new regulation, taxi operators will be required to have a civilized outfit, a proper language, clean cars, and to guarantee the citizens' safety.
Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea also proposed partnerships between Bucharest City Hall, through the Municipal Company of Information Technology and the Municipal Company of Traffic Management, and “recognized taxi structures” for the implementation of online booking and payment services, which would “facilitate Bucharesters’ access to taxi services.”
UPDATE: Uber has reacted to the Bucharest mayor's announcement, saying that the apps such as Uber, the car sharing and taxi services, and the public transport are together solutions that can reduce traffic congestion and pollution, and can solve the parking problem in Bucharest.
"More than 350,000 Bucharesters rely on Uber for daily trips and thousands of partner drivers make an extra income through the app and contribute to the public budget. We want to discuss the future of the transport industry with the municipality and other industry actors to do what is best for consumers and the city. We believe that dialogue is the best way to offer Bucharesters the best transport services," said Uber representatives.
COTAR has accused Uber drivers of unfair competition many times before, saying their activity is not regulated similarly to that of the traditional taxi services. At the end of April this year, some 3,000 drivers and transporters who protested in front of the Government in Bucharest managed to convince the Government to change the taxi law. In September, taxi operators threatened to start a tax strike.
Meanwhile, in late September, Uber has proposed the Bucharest City Hall a data sharing partnership.
Irina Marica, [email protected]