Taxi drivers in Hungary demand Uber to be shut down

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Anti-Uber Protest Causes Traffic Gridlock

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Taxi drivers in Hungary's capital demonstrated on Monday against ride-hailing service Uber, whose growing popularity they find unpalatable amid new regulations setting a fixed tariff for traditional taxi firms that is higher than Uber's.

Taxis blocked a major road crossing in central Budapest and drove around in city streets blocking much of the road traffic in the capital's center. They said they would stay put until Uber was no longer download able to smartphones in Hungary.

Uber Technologies Inc's [UBER.UL] service has triggered protests by taxi drivers from London to New Delhi as it upend traditional business models that require professional drivers to pay steep licensing fees to drive cabs.

See photos of the protests:

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Taxi drivers in Hungary demand Uber be shut down
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Taxi drivers in Hungary demand Uber to be shut down
Budapest taxis drivers block traffic as they protest demanding a ban on Uber in downtown Budapest, Hungary, Jan. 18, 2018. More than 100 taxis blocked traffic in downtown Budapest as drivers demanded a ban on Uber and other ride-hailing apps. The yellow vehicles from several taxi companies blocked off a key intersection near St. Stephen's Basilica in the Hungarian capital, causing significant traffic delays. Banner reads in Hungarian: âBan Uber!â (AP Photo/Bela Szandelszky)
A sticker rejecting Uber rideshare application is seen on the rear window of a Budapest licenced taxi cab during an unannounced taxi driver demonstration against the internet service as the chauffeurs restrict traffic with their vehicles at Erzsebet square in the early morning hours in downtown Budapest, Hungary, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. (Peter Lakatos/MTI via AP)
Taxi cab drivers gather by their vehicles at Erzsebet Square during an unannounced demonstration against the use of Uber rideshare application in the early morning hours in downtown Budapest, Hungary, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. (Peter Lakatos/MTI via AP)
A Hungarian taxi owner makes a sign in downtown Budapest on January 18, 2016 during a taxi drivers' demonstration againts Uber application. / AFP / FERENC ISZA (Photo credit should read FERENC ISZA/AFP/Getty Images)
Hungarian police officers control the traffic in downtown Budapest on January 18, 2016 during a taxi drivers' demonstration againts Uber application. / AFP / FERENC ISZA (Photo credit should read FERENC ISZA/AFP/Getty Images)
Hungarian taxi drivers hold a hold a sign reading 'Ban Uber' in downtown Budapest on January 18, 2016 during a taxi drivers' demonstration againts Uber application. / AFP / FERENC ISZA (Photo credit should read FERENC ISZA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Late in the afternoon the protest appeared to be weakening with some drivers leaving and those remaining divided about the resolve to continue in the face of police requests to open up the blockade, according to Reuters photographers at the scene.

About 140 vehicles took part in the demonstration, organizers said. Drone pictures by Drone Media Studio, published on the news web site 444.hu, showed a few dozen taxis blocking the thoroughfare.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the organizers demanded that Uber be banned in Hungary and Uber drivers be penalized for what they saw as breaches of the regulations for taxis.

"We stand up for our rights and demand an end to this lawlessness," the protest organizers said in the statement. "We demand that the Uber application be switched off. Just get it done, period."

The government will put the issue on the agenda of its meeting on Wednesday and consider all proposals, Prime Minister Viktor Orban's chief of staff told state news agency MTI.

MTI also reported an Uber statement that said the protest by the taxi drivers underscored the need for new regulation that respects the presence and positive effects of new technologies.

Uber has attracted 80,000 users and 1,200 drivers in Budapest since its 2014 launch in the city, MTI quoted the company as saying last week.

(Reporting by Marton Dunai; Editing by Mark Potter)

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