Major changes ahead for taxis in Flanders

Summary

The new ruling, approved today, means an end to some outdated and rather odd regulations, and aims to democratise the industry

More taxis, lower prices

The taxi industry in Flanders will soon look very different from how it does today, thanks to a new decree just approved by the Flemish government.

The ruling removes some outdated regulations, and mobility minister Ben Weyts (N-VA) hopes the changes will democratise the industry. There are very few licensed taxis in Flanders, and this is partly down to a long list of rules that drivers must adhere to – including those that state drivers must charge fixed tariffs, taxis are tied to one municipality, and there can be a maximum of one taxi for every 1,000 inhabitants.

Under the current rules, for example, a taxi making the 65km journey from Antwerp to Ghent may not pick up another client in Ghent and drive them to Antwerp, meaning the passenger pays a higher price that takes into account the cost of the driver returning to Antwerp. This rule is now being removed, meaning drivers are free to collect passengers anywhere in the region. The quota of taxis per inhabitants will no longer apply; drivers must, however, be able to speak Dutch to their passengers.

“I want to see more taxis at lower prices,” said Weyts, as the government approved the decree, which also offers room for concepts such as Uber and will enter into force on 1 January 2020 at the latest. Local authorities will be able to issue additional permits for privileged waiting spots at places such as a railway station or airport.

Photo: Thierry Roge/Belga