Flanders to scrap price controls on taxis

Summary

Mobility minister Ben Weyts has approved a new set of regulations for taxi companies and drivers meant to simplify procedures and create competitive pricing

No more limits

A range of changes to legislation surrounding taxi services in Flanders will see more taxis on the roads and a halt on price controls, both minimum and maximum. The new regulations are expected to come into force on 1 January 2020.

Currently, all taxi providers in the region must charge customers within minimum and maximum prices set by the government of Flanders. The government is now abolishing that system, leaving the market free to decide prices.

According to mobility minister Ben Weyts, this will ultimately lower prices as it brings in a new level of competition. Cities will be allowed, however, to set maximum prices for taxi stands, such as at train stations. Taxis moving around the city can choose their own tariffs.

The policy that limits the number of taxies to one for every 1,000 residents will also be scrapped. Lifting the restriction, says Weyts, will make it easier for taxi start-ups to begin operating and will allow all taxi operators to decide how many taxis they want to run.

Cross-border rides

There will also be no more limitations on where a taxi can operate. Currently, taxis could only pick up passengers in areas where they have a license to operate.

This means that if a cab brings passengers from Antwerp to Ghent, it can not pick up passengers in Ghent and take them to Antwerp for the return trip. Now a taxi company will be able to pick up and drop off passengers anywhere in Flanders.

The traditional taximeter that is currently required in all cabs will no longer be necessary, as long as the prices and kilometres travelled can be seen clearly. It’s up to the taxi operator what kind of system it wants to install.

While most of the changes are about simplifying the system and scrapping limitations, Weyts is also adding a requirement: Taxi drivers need to speak Dutch at a minimum B1 level. They have a year-long grace period, however, between being allowed to start driving and reaching B1 level. That will allow them time to follow Dutch lessons, he says.

“The new taxi decree is a win-win,” says Weyts. “The sector can rely on a simpler, uniform set of rules, with a lower threshold when it comes to stepping into the taxi market. The customer can count on more taxis and lower prices.”

The new regulations need to be reviewed by the Council of State before coming into force.

Photo: Jeroen Willems/City of Ghent