Barcelona: UBER and Cabify suspend services in the city

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By Euronews  with Reuters
Barcelona: UBER and Cabify suspend services in the city

The companies of alternative taxi services, UBER and Cabify, have decided to suspend their services in Barcelona after tighter regulations by the regional government.

From Friday 01 Feb, the new law means ride-hailing services can only pick up passengers after a 15-minute delay from the time they were booked.

The Catalan government made the decision after mass protests recently, in the city centre and in Madrid, by taxi drivers who said they were being undermined and that regulations needed to be fairer.

Both companies had already threatened to leave Madrid this week if the regional government accepted the request of traditional taxi drivers to approve a similar obligation for the capital of Spain.

The Cabify company said in a statement it regretted that the regional government had "given in to the demands of the taxi sector, seriously hurting citizen's interests". The company had one million users in Barcelona.

UBER said it had hoped "to work with the Catalan government and the City Council on fair regulation for all".

The alternative taxi service drivers are disappointed. Carlos Sanchez, a 26-year-old UBER driver said, "It's a shame. I think there's enough work for both sectors and I think we give another service that they do not give. So it's a shame."

But the licensed taxi drivers are pleased not to have UBER or Cabify driving around the city. Jose, a 65-year old taxi driver said, "If they want to work as a taxi, I can sell them mine (license). I will sell it within a year, they can buy it from me and they can start working like the rest of us."

This new tighter regulation could put 3,000 jobs at risk in Barcelona.