The taxi promised war, and there will be war. Against Uber in Barcelona and its new model. Also with the universe of Cabify’s VTC, against those who have a long list of mobilizations planned this week.
A month and a half ago, Uber returned to Barcelona with a new operating model: the American technology company left behind the car system with driver (VTC), which Cabify had maintained in the region, and entered a 100% taxi business . A model that they had already been testing in Madrid since before the pandemic. With the closed price system (under Rate 3), and the permission of the Transport Unit of the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (AMB) that third-party applications can operate with the taxi and its rates, Uber decided to abandon – for the moment – its main business.
Of course, the problems did not wait. Uber was entering Barcelona legally, but the taxi led by Elite did not have them all with him and found a loophole to charge against the technology. By March 16, Uber’s official premiere date in Barcelona, it had not approved the closed price system (Rate 3). A problem with the maps in the application threw back this authorization and the best business opportunity of the company in the city.
Despite everything, Uber decided to go ahead without Rate 3 covered, according to its point of view, in DECRET 314/2016. The fact of not having all the authorizations would not prevent, in any case, operating with the rest. According to the AMB and the Elite taxi itself, and under the same regulations, this was a serious offense. For these groups, it is imperative to have all the rates to be able to work.
Just today, Uber already has the go-ahead to operate under the problematic Rate 3, but this is only the beginning of another new battle.
Fare 3 for Uber in Barcelona yes, but without taxis according to Elite
Toyota Prius taxi in Barcelona, Spain
It was the great doubt of the moment, Was it a serious offense to operate without Rate 3? After all, Uber wouldn’t be the first to do it. Another company before them, FreeNow, had already taken months to obtain the permits to implement the closed prices under the regulation of the AMB. The resolution of the conflict was not known until that same day. With a low profile, the AMB sided with the taxi announcing that entry without Fare 3 was a serious offense. Not for Uber in Barcelona, but for the drivers themselves who they were exposed to fines or withdrawals of permits.
This was the beginning of the problem: with the WBA statement, the activity of taxi drivers under the wing of Uber was put at risk. Of the 350 that, according to the technology company, were already associated with the company before March 16. And, although some did dare to start working through the app, few were those who took risks with that company. It wasn’t just the WBA keeping a close eye on it; all the collective of Barcelona taxi was about to tighten the fence among all those who dare to collaborate with “the enemy.”
The fear of sanctions has weighed down Uber’s activity in Barcelona in its first weeks back
In this sense and in a statement, Juan Galiardo, director of Uber in Spain, points out that “a month ago we presented our commitment to the Barcelona taxi sector and hundreds of taxi drivers registered on our platform. We are going to continue working on the recovery of the sector with them and we hope that they can finally go out to work without fear of reprisals from part of the sector ”. In other words, fear of sanctions has weighed down Uber’s activity in Barcelona in his first weeks back. This medium has asked the AMB Transportation Unit about the files that the institution has opened during these weeks, but has not received a response at the time of publication of this article.
Despite everything, fear is not surprising. The surveillance of the taxi and the notice of the AMB has made things difficult for Uber in Barcelona. Tito Álvarez explains to Hypertextual that «fortunately that Uber works with taxis is not a political question, but moral on the part of the taxi. In Barcelona we have very internalized what it means that they come, so we don’t want them here. Since last March 16, the group led by Elite has combed the Catalan capital in search of the few who dare to operate for Uber. As an informational picket, the group intended to discourage their collaboration. After this month of the company in Barcelona, and even with Rate 3, “Uber’s presence is reduced to nothing since there are no cars operating for them.”