There is still no prospect of the restart of the night rides of the shared taxi service Collecto, which, according to the trade publication Personenvervoer Magazine, has been discontinued since the first lockdown in the Brussels region. Collecto is normally a collective taxi service available seven days a week between 23 pm and 6 am within the Brussels-Capital Region. The lack of restart was confirmed to BRUZZ by the CEO of Taxis Verts, Jean-Michel Courtoy. That is not possible due to the current corona measures, says manager and original initiator Taxis Verts. “You cannot guarantee social distancing between strangers in a shared taxi.” In addition to the corona problem, there is another problem: Taxis Verts currently does not have enough drivers to do the normal work and drive Collecto.

The collective taxis supplement the STIB's Noctis night bus network, which only operates on weekends. Under normal circumstances, Collecto serves more than 200 departure points (located at the STIB stops). Collecto provides a ride from a Collecto stop to a home address for € 5 per person per ride for MOBIB subscribers (or € 6 for those who do not have a STIB subscription).

Taxicentrale Taxis Verts again won the tender for the operation of the innovative nighttime shared taxi service Collecto in 2019, for a period of five years. In early 2020, Prime Minister Vervoort (PS) announced that additional security measures would be introduced after a student accused a false Collecto driver of rape. Two months later, Belgium went into lockdown as a result of the global corona pandemic. Without nightlife and later with a curfew, the nighttime taxi service had little raison d'être.

But even though the catering industry has been open again since June and the dance halls and nightclubs since last weekend, Collecto has not yet restarted. And a restart is not immediately in sight, says Courtoy. “We have regular consultations with Brussels Mobility about the service, but due to the corona measures and especially the 'social distancing', it is currently impossible to run a collective taxi service, where strangers share a taxi together,” says Courtoy. "Mouth masks are not enough, the passengers are much too close to each other and we cannot guarantee the distance."

Collecto is a bit of a fall between the two, Courtoy told BX1 earlier. According to the broadcaster, Taxis Verts will meet with the cabinet of Prime Minister Rudi Vervoort (PS) within ten days to look at the future. There is also another problem, which Courtoy acknowledges but does not now call the key question: after the lockdowns, Taxis Verts does not yet employ enough drivers to run Collecto on top of its normal activity.

Read also: Shortage of taxi drivers continues to grip the sector

Nightlife in the Brussels region was severely affected by the pandemic
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