Our history

by lexsips

Louls Vandenwayenberg (1913 +1980). who was known in Elzer as ‘Lowee va Mil, kept a café along the Duisburgsesteenweg after the 2nd World War and worked 9 greenhouses on the flanks of the Horenberg. His wife Rosa Trappeniers (1914 +1989) helped in the café and also ran a wool and yarn shop. In 1947 Louls bought a Citroen Traction Avant and founded “Taxi Louis”, the first taxi company in Elzer. Few inhabitants of Elzer had their own car at the time. They mainly relied on a taxi for transport to and from the hospital and to and from balls in the surrounding villages. Taxis were also used for wedding ceremonies. From March to September there was a wedding party somewhere in the area almost every Saturday, some years more than 200 in total. At the end of the 1950s, Louis exchanged the Traction Avant for a Desoto Fire dome, a large American limousine. It still had the gear lever on the steering wheel and a long bench in the front, on which up to 3 other people could sit next to the driver, which was handy for a ceremonial car. But the six-liter V8 engine guzzled masses of petrol and from the beginning of the 1960s, the more economical Mercedes diesel cars made their permanent appearance in the taxi industry in Elzer. Initially, the Mercedes also had a large bench seat in the front, on which 2 passengers could take a seat. 

The neighbor of Louls, Guillaume Vanderlinden, soon followed suit and also set up a tax company. In the mid-1960s, Louls bought himself a second car. Roman ‘Hondt from the Bekestraat came to work as a driver on the side, but after a few years set up his own taxi service. The 3 Eizer taxi companies worked well together, also with colleagues from the surrounding villages. It had to be because large families sometimes needed 10 or more ceremonial cars for wedding parties. They even mutually agreed on the purchase of new cars, so that they all drove the same makes and models, a matter of having a clean “suite”. As the 1960s progressed, more and more inhabitants of Eizer started owning their own car and they had little need for a taxi. The use of ceremonial cars at weddings also gradually declined. This was more than offset by the increased demand from international organisations, embassies and companies in the Brussels region for transport of employees, expats and visitors to and from train stations and airports. However, Louis could not live on his taxi business alone, so he kept his café and greenhouses.

On January 1, 1978, Huguette Bombaerts, the wife of Louis’ youngest son Etienne, took over the company and renamed it “Taxi Etienne”. She started with 2 cars, but after a few years she bought a third and recruited the first permanent employee. Etienne, who was a municipal official in Overijse, worked as a taxi driver until he also started working full-time in the company in 1991. The clientele consisted of more than 80% companies, while less than 20% of the journeys were for private customers and this is still the case today. The airports and train stations remain important destinations. Today, some executives even prefer a taxi for their daily commute to and from work. In many places, taxis are allowed to drive on sections reserved for public transport and thus avoid traffic jams. It saves a lot of time and the customer can also start working during the journey. For about 8 years, Elzer taxis were also used for urgent parcel transport for companies. Once they had to deliver a package to Berlin, the furthest destination so far.

A driver drives an average of 75,000 to 100,000 km per year. He or she always drives the same car and must ensure that it is always immaculate. Cleanliness of cars, neatness and driver discretion are important pillars of Taxi Etienne’s success. In addition, the punctuality and language skills of the drivers ensure that various embassies and large companies have been regular customers for many years. A regular customer was also the recently deceased cartoonist Marc Sleen. “El Sympati-co’. Jean-Marie Plaft. is another BV, who once rode in an Elzerse Taxi, but as far as well-known customers are concerned, the lead is unwittingly bitten off by the former Zairean dictator Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, who unexpectedly ends up at the back of the Etlenne’s car took place when it was waiting for the end of a meeting with about 30 other drivers at the Zairese embassy in Brussels. Major world events can have major consequences for an Eizers taxi company. After the attacks of September 9, 2001, it was very calm at Taxi Etienne for a few days. The same happened in April 2010, after the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland, and also after the attacks in Brussels on March 22, 2016. In the latter case, however, the short dip was followed by a busy period of months, as many business people took a taxi ride to the airports of Paris, Amsterdam or Dusseldorf preferred to the long waiting times in Zaventem.

In June 2002, Tax Etlenne became a BVBA. in which, in addition to Huguette and Etienne, their 2 eldest sons Fillp and Xavier also became partners. The company grew steadily. At one point it had 12 cars and employed 8 other drivers in addition to the 4 partners. However, it became a bit much and it was decided to reduce slightly. In 2015, Xavier left the company and Filip became manager; his wife Sylvie Craps is also active in the company. On January 1, 2017, Huguette retired from the business and Ronald, the youngest son of Etlenne and Huguette, became a full-time driver. At the moment, the Taxi Etienne employs 4 Mercedes E- and 2 S-class cars and a minibus. We are available from 5 am to 11 pm but also transport you to and from the airport during the night, if you request it in advance.