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Government tightens regulation for Cabify and Uber

Vehicles of ride-hailing apps must be at least 4.9m in length and will still have to be booked 15 minutes in advance

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05 July 2022 01:29 PM

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ACN | Barcelona

The Catalan government has approved new regulations for the ride-hailing industry, meaning companies such as Cabify and Uber will be able to operate in the territory under certain new conditions.

This new regulation will come into effect after September 30. The new decree will have an initial duration of two years, with the option of extending it for two further years. The rules will be the responsibility of local councils and the Barcelona Metropolitan Area to enforce. 

Vehicles of such ride-hailing apps will have to measure at least 4.9 metres in length, longer than the average five-door car. This will prevent many people from signing up to become drivers for Uber or Cabify, as many regular vehicles won’t meet this condition. This will be counted as a victory for Barcelona’s taxi sector, which has been rallying against such platforms for years and has recently protested in the Catalan capital to call for tighter regulation

In the case of new vehicles, they must come with either the Eco badge or 0, meaning they emit no pollutants or else be a hybrid vehicle using natural gas. 

Drivers who want to use their cars as a vehicle for hire in Catalonia must wait one year after getting authorization, meaning any new drivers will have to wait a year after registering.

Another new piece of regulation coming into force will see vehicles signing up to become drivers for ride-hailing apps requiring the equivalent insurance as taxis. When the new decree comes into effect, they will have to have coverage allowing for up to €50 million in civil liability for any damages that passengers may suffer.

Additionally, as previously agreed and announced, rides will have to be booked at least 15 minutes in advance.

Drivers of vehicles for hire must have their B category driver’s license for at least two years before they work on a ride-hailing platform. 

Across Catalonia, there are some 4,000 licenses to operate as a vehicle for hire, but only some 2,500-3,000 have recently had a vehicle registered to the corresponding license. However, a Catalan government press release points out that at the moment, only around 1,455 are currently in use. 

Meanwhile, there are 12,300 taxis in all of Catalonia, with some 10,500 of those in Barcelona.

The Catalan government estimates that "more than half" of the vehicles for hire active in Catalonia already meet the new requirements.

"Those who do not comply will have to adapt," confirmed the director general of transport and mobility, Mercè Rius.

Fines and penalties

The new decree also sees an update for the fines and penalties, ranging from €201 to €6,000, awarded for incompliance with the regulations. 

Drivers who operate services for ride-hailing platforms with authorization from outside Catalonia will be fined up to €2,000 and have their vehicle suspended as a vehicle for hire. 

There will also be penalties of up to €4,000 and the suspension of the vehicle for hire license for drivers that pick up customers without prior contracting or circulating in search of customers. Fines may reach €6,000 euros in the case of working without authorization.

Ride-hailing platforms: "unfair and disproportionate"

Associations related to ride-hailing app employers, Feneval and Unauto, criticized the new decree, calling the new requirements “unfair and disproportionate." 

Both groups lamented that the regulation was drafted "behind the backs of the sector and at the behest of the most radical taxi group." 

For its part, Elite Taxi celebrated the new decree law, considering it a further step forward in the fight against the "unfair competition" of platforms such as Uber and Cabify. 

"Now taxi drivers will be able to live quietly and without danger of invasion," the entity's spokesperson, Tito Álvarez, said. "This decree law once again puts Catalonia and Barcelona at the forefront of defending the self-employed, SMEs and public services above the interests of vultures," Alvarez added. 

"We hope that this pioneering decree in Catalonia will serve as a model for other territories, and move away from the economic terrorism of Andalusia and Madrid," Elite Taxi concluded.

Cabify survey: 70% Barcelona residents in favor of both services

A survey commissioned by Cabify and presented in late June claimed that seven out of ten Barcelona residents believe taxis and ride-hailing platforms should coexist to let the user choose whichever works best for them.

The survey, the findings of which were revealed this week, looked at the opinions of 750 people between June 13 and 17 without distinguishing if they were taxi or ride-hailing app users.

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  • Taxi drivers protest against ride-hailing platforms in Barcelona in December 2019 (by Mar Vila)

  • Taxi drivers protest against ride-hailing platforms in Barcelona in December 2019 (by Mar Vila)

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