Uber's third return to Barcelona reignites taxi drivers' complaints

The association Élite Taxi calls for a slow march to the Parliament to protest against the app, which now operates with taxis

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Elite Taxi protests against Uber

BarcelonaThere are enmities whose intensity does not wane with the passing of time. The confrontation between the taxi sector and the transport app Uber has been a constant since the American company first began operating in Barcelona in 2014. Since then, the company has made two more attempts to return to the Catalan capital. The third was launched this Tuesday, using only by taxis and Catalan platform Social Car's shared cars. Even so, the response of taxi drivers has been the same as in previous attempts. After an assembly at Sants station, the Élite Taxi association has called the first mobilisations to protest against Uber's return. The sector will hold a slow drive through the city on Thursday that will start at Plaça Espanya, past the headquarters of employer association Foment del Treball on Via Laietana and end at the Parliament of Catalonia.

"We demand that all political parties take a stand in favor of the taxi," said the association's spokesperson, Tito Alvarez, during the assembly. The group does not want the Metropolitan Taxi Institute (Imet) to grant the Californian company the authorisation to use the T3 fare, which would allow it to offer a closed price to customers. The body has not yet made a decision and in the meantime the 350 taxis that now operate for Uber use the taximeter system. Faced with this situation, Élite has given Imet 24 hours to reject the petition. "Violating the fare regime carries fines of €2,000 and the withdrawal of the licence," Álvarez has insisted.

Uber last left Barcelona in February 2019, after the Catalan government brought forward a decree requiring rides in vehicles for hire to be booked at least 15 minutes in advance. This restriction clashed with the company's on-demand transport model, which unlike Cabify opted to leave Catalonia and concentrate on other territories, such as Madrid. After two years of inactivity in the Catalan city, Uber returns to as an intermediary platform between taxi drivers and users. "We don't care how they enter the city. If Uber operates in Barcelona there will be war and it will not stop," warned Alvarez.

Colau is confident that there will be no protests

The mayor of Barcelona, Ada Colau, has been confident in statements to RAC1 that the return of Uber to the city will not generate protests from the taxi sector. She understands that "there is general concern" of the sector, but has remarked that it is not the same situation as in the past because now there are regulations. In this sense, Colau has assured that to operate in Barcelona companies like Uber have to follow the regulations. "The institutions acted and put through a pioneering regulation in the state," he said in relation to vehicles for hire.