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Taxi drivers in Madrid call off Uber battle but hope to win the war

Madrid, January 24, 2019
Madrid, January 24, 2019 Copyright Reuters
Copyright Reuters
By Pascale Davies with Reuters
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Taxi drivers in Madrid called off a 16-day protest against ride-hailing apps.

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After 16 days of travel chaos in Madrid, taxi drivers in the Spanish capital called off their strike against ride-hailing apps on Tuesday despite not having their demands met by the government.

Cab drivers were seeking stricter regulation of Uber and similar services, which offer rides at cheaper taxi prices and can be ordered on the internet rather than in the street.

Madrid's refusal to accept the drivers' demands came after Uber and Cabify said they were suspending their services in Barcelona last week after the regional government ruled that ride-hailing services could only pick up passengers after 15-minutes from when the car was booked.

Last week, the biggest anti-Uber protest took place in Madrid — footage of which you can see in the video player, above — when hundreds of taxi drivers blocked the Paseo de la Castellana during rush hour. It took anti-riot police several hours to clear the vehicles with tow-trucks.

Defiant but defeated for the moment, union representatives in Madrid said the strike had shown the unity of the drivers, which would help them continue the fight for their demands.

“It is a long war, in which you can lose battles, but in the end, I’m sure we can win,” Julio Sanz, head of the Taxi Federation union, told reporters.

Spain's government already bowed to taxi drivers demands in September by giving ride-hailing apps four years to comply with a regulation that grants them one new license for every 30 taxi permits.

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