Ride-hailing services will still have to be booked at least 15 minutes in advance

Government and Socialists reach agreement to regulate platforms such as Uber and Cabify

Cabify returns to Barcelona after bitter disputes with the city's taxi drivers
Cabify returns to Barcelona after bitter disputes with the city's taxi drivers / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

July 1, 2022 07:57 PM

Ride-hailing services (VTC) such as Uber and Cabify will have to be booked at least 15 minutes in advance when being used in Catalonia.

This was the main point in an agreement that was reached between the government and the leading opposition party, the Socialists, and made public on Friday.

The current regulation is temporary and needs to be updated by Catalan authorities by the end of September. A Spanish government four-year moratorium permitting companies like Uber or Cabify to operate has been in force since 2018 but will be up in under three months.

Yet, while this will remain unchanged, fines for VTC services operating in Barcelona with licenses from other parts of Spain will be increased.

Also, drivers for apps such as Cabify will have to have had a driver's license for over two years and the car they are using has to have been linked to their permit to operate for over a year

The executive expects to approve the decree next week and the parliament may greenlight it by the end of July.

Earlier this week, taxi drivers had threatened strikes blocking the Barcelona city center, but after a meeting with government representatives on Wednesday, they said they had left "moderately happy."

Decree to be in force two to four years only

Cabinet sources explained that the decree will be approved shortly but will only be in place for two years, although it could be extended for another two as the judiciary is yet to rule on some ongoing cases.

For instance, judges have to decide whether booking ride-hailing services in advance and not on the spot is legal as well as how far in advance – the Catalan government had set a 15-minute waiting period for Cabify and Uber users and wants to maintain it, while the Barcelona metropolitan authority expanded it to one hour, but this must now be decided on by a judge.

Also, magistrates are expected to have their say on the ride-hailing vehicles (VTC) ratio to taxis. While taxi drivers are lobbying for a 1:30 ratio, the Barcelona metropolitan area has set it at approximately 1:7.

Taxis in favor, VTC sector against

Taxi drivers welcomed the agreement and thanked politicians for the deal, which allows them to "live a more relaxed life and without intrusion," according to Élite Taxi association's leader, Tito Álvarez. 

"The ride-hailing platforms arrived and we have been suffering for years due to unfair competition and lies," he told the press. 

Meanwhile, the two main associations gathering VTC drivers, Feneval and Unauto-VTC, said the new decree announced is "unjustified and disproportionate."

In a statement, they accused the government of giving in to "the most radical part" of taxi drivers and warned this is going to mean the "partial destruction" of their sector. 

Cabify survey: 70% Barcelona residents in favor of both taxis and VTCs 

A survey commissioned by Cabify and presented earlier this week 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.