Uber He is suspending his professional taxi service in Barcelona as of tomorrow, almost a year after re-entering the Catalan capital.
The move comes after the regional government agrees on new regulations for the rental vehicle (VTC) sector with the aim of ensuring that they do not compete directly with taxis.
“The new restrictions approved by the Catalan Government leave us no choice but to suspend UberX while we evaluate our future in Barcelona. “We are committed to being a long-term partner for Spanish cities and we look forward to working with the Catalan government and the City Council on fair regulation for all,” an Uber spokesperson told us.
We have arrived at Cabify Ask if service in the city will also be suspended tomorrow.
The transportation company also previously said it would have no choice but to leave if the decree is approved. And local press reports that it will suspend services throughout the region tomorrow as well.
The new regional VTC rules, which will also come into effect throughout Catalonia as of tomorrow, require a minimum of 15 minutes of waiting between the reservation made and the pick-up of a passenger.
The decree also prohibits VTCs from circulating on the streets between jobs, requiring them to return to a base, such as a parking lot or garage, to wait for the next pickup.
VTC companies using travel booking apps are also prohibited from displaying the real-time location of vehicles that can be booked before a reservation is made.
Achieving compliance would clearly require major changes to the way transportation companies like Uber and Cabify operate. The decree also establishes fines of up to € 1,400 (~ $ 1,600) for any VTC driver found to be in violation of the provisions. So Uber’s announcement of a service suspension comes as no surprise.
The company also seems poised to return unless the decree is reversed, saying it needs “fair” regulation, which echoes its message when it pulled out of Denmark in 2017.
“The obligation to wait 15 minutes to travel in a VTC does not exist anywhere in Europe and is totally incompatible with the immediacy of on-demand services, such as UberX,” he now writes in a blog post titled “See you later, Barcelona” . ‘.
“Barcelona, we hope to see you soon,” he adds, claiming that the relaunched service was used by more than half a million people in its execution, relying on “thousands” of drivers to deliver it.
Uber’s original p2p service was also kicked out of Barcelona, in 2014, following legal challenges from the taxi industry that eventually reached the highest court in Europe.
In late 2017, the court judged Uber as a transportation company, not platform neutral, enforcing compliance with local VTC regulations and making Uber’s regulatory schemes playbook a failure in Europe.
Since then, taxi associations in Barcelona and other major Spanish cities have kept up pressure to regulate the VTC sector through a series of strikes, including one earlier this month in which some strikers were caught on camera attacking. the car of a Cabify driver.
The driver was reported to have suffered a panic attack during the attack.
An “indefinite strike” was also called last summer and only ended after the Spanish government agreed to transfer regulatory power to autonomous regions and local authorities.
Uber and Cabify temporarily halted services in Barcelona during that strike after reports of violence, including attacks on drivers. Although the taxi associations organizing the protests quickly distanced themselves from any violent acts, they urged their members to protest peacefully.
The most recent strike in Barcelona also saw some VTC drivers take to the streets to try to put the brakes on regulation, park their vehicles along a main road and demonstrate outside parliament.
There is still a possibility that the Catalan parliament may refuse to back the decree. Although the current regional government is committed to a complete restructuring of the law to ensure that VTCs and taxis do not compete for the same job.