Xpat Opinion: Uber Frustrated Taxi Drivers In Budapest

  • 26 Mar 2015 1:35 AM
Xpat Opinion: Uber Frustrated Taxi Drivers In Budapest
Uber is a ridesharing service that recently showed up in Hungary. Taxi companies are understandably frustrated and Uber further provokes them with tiny things like free weekends. Not so long ago, Hungary’s taxi fares have been unified regardless of which company you choose.

This, in a way, kind of killed the competition, as all they can do to stand out, is provide better quality in cars and drivers and perhaps various promotions for their clients. Currently the base fare for taxis is 450 HUF and the kilometer fee is 280 HUF for everyone.

Then out of nowhere a wild Uber appears with fees that cannot be controlled by the new laws, as they are not a taxi company, but one that provides a ‘ridesharing service’. Before going into the details, let us think a little about what some differences might be between a professional taxi driver, and Sanyi, the unknown ridesharing driver without a taxi license.

A major factor that puts me off personally from choosing one of these new ridesharing services is that I am not entirely convinced that Uber, or for example WunderCar drivers are checked into such depth that one can hop in on a Friday night perhaps slightly over the state of tipsy, without feeling a bit anxious about the driver or the car. I know that drivers at some of these companies are thoroughly checked through Facebook… Facebook really? I did not know that Facebook is now proof that a person is normal and has driving skills capable of responsibly taking passengers just as well as a taxi driver. I doubt it.

Low fares are not the only tricks Uber has up its sleeves. Last weekend Uber basically showed that particular finger on our hands to all Hungarian taxi companies, the one that is neither used for pointing, nor for nose picking. This trick was none other than a nifty free weekend, because they can.

Looking at these somewhat surprising characteristics of ridesharing services, it seems completely rational for taxi drivers to be angry, worried and perhaps to be occasionally playing darts on an Uber logo. It is also not a shock that they recently held a protest in Budapest, and I am convinced that it is definitely not the last one, for who would remain happy and calm if their jobs were taken by an uncontrollable company, meanwhile taxi fees cannot be lowered to remain in competition.
It is of course everyone’s right to choose the cheaper unknown over the good old taxis, but do we really feel safe and comfortable in the cars of these ridesharing services? The choice is yours.

Words by Daniel Csaki for XpatLoop.com

MTI photo: Szigetváry Zsolt

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