Only high-end cars will be allowed as intra-city vehicles for hire

Catalan government passes a bill to regulate the sector, which leaves platforms like Cabify out of the game

2 min
An UBER luxury car

BarcelonaVehicles for hire will be able to continue making urban routes, but only if their vehicle is over 4.9 metres long – usually a feature of high-end cars, a vehicle is linked to the license and they have been providing the service for the last year, among other requirements.

These are some of the conditions included in the decree law to regulate vehicles for hire the Catalan Government approved this Tuesday and which the executive called a "temporary measure". A week ago, the Government reached an agreement with the Socialists get the bill approved, which Parliament now must validate in the coming month.

The hurry to pass the bill is due to the fact that at the end of September the moratorium of the Ábalos law ends. This means that from October 1 regional governments are responsible from regulating this services and, if not specific regulation is put in place, vehicles for hire would no longer be allowed to make intra-city trips. The Government says the bill will allow "those who have been working until now can continue to do so".

The 4.9 metres in length

The agreement with PSC entailed adding new requirements to the proposed decree law the Government proposed at the beginning. Among them, the most controversial is the rule that vehicles must measure a minimum of 4.9 metres in length, and in the case of new vehicles, they must have 0 or Eco badges.

This minimum length leaves platforms such as Cabify, which bases a large part of its fleet in Spain on the Skoda Octavia (4.68 meters) and Skoda Superb (4.8 meters), out of the game. These platforms will have to change their fleet if they want to continue operating within Barcelona's metropolitan area.

In fact, this requirement protects traditional vehicles for hire, which tend to be more luxurious cars from non-technological companies, and which are used to make trips to the airport or trips booked well in advance.

More conditions

Other conditions included in the text are: to be the holder of a vehicle for hire license domiciled in Catalonia with an assigned vehicle for at least the past year; to have insurance covering up to €50m (as taxis do), and to have held a driving license for at least two years. Each municipality may require drivers to undergo specific training.

What is not included in the text is the condition demanded by taxis: a ratio of one vehicle for hire for every 30 cabs. This ratio is currently subject to a lawsuit, and until the European Court rules on it, it will not be mandatory. Throughout Catalonia there are currently 12,300 taxis, of which 10,500 are in Barcelona. In contrast, there are 4,000 authorised vehicles for hire in Catalonia, and of these only 1,455 are currently active and meet the new conditions. Of these 1,455, some 700 are traditional vehicles for hire, according to data from the Vice-Presidential Department.

This decree will be in force for two years, extendable to two more, until a new law is in place. Cars that do not comply with the new conditions will be allowed to continue making inter-city trips, despite the fact that over 90% of routes requested are within Barcelona's metropolitan area.