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Barcelona taxi drivers protest against Uber's return

·1-min read

Hundreds of taxis joined a protest in central Barcelona on Thursday to protest against the return of Uber which had pulled out of the city in 2019 following a dispute.

The US ride-hailing giant on Tuesday launched an app in Barcelona that allows users to book a traditional licensed taxi instead of VTCs (vehicles with chauffeur).

Following huge pressure from the city's taxi drivers who said Uber and its Spanish rival Cabify were operating with an unfair advantage, the Catalan regional government imposed tough new restrictions on them, prompting both to withdraw from Barcelona in January 2019.

Elite Taxi, a Barcelona-based association of drivers which has spearheaded the action against the ride-hailing services, believes the new app "violates the tariff regime" imposed upon taxi drivers, bringing prices down.

"There are rules and they must be complied with... to guarantee users that all apps offer the same prices," Elite Taxi's Tito Alvarez told reporters.

For Luz, one of the taxi drivers at the demonstration who did not give her surname, Uber acts "like a Trojan horse.. saying they want to work with the taxis but it's a lie.

"We are a regulated service with regulated rates.. they want to get inside then change the laws."

At the end of 2017, Elite Taxi won a victory at the European Court of Justice which ruled that Uber was an ordinary transportation company instead of an app and should follow the same rules governing taxis.

Uber has had a rough ride in Spain, where it was forced to suspend its activity in 2014 after a judge said the service constituted unfair competition.

In 2016, Uber returned to Madrid and in 2018 expanded into Barcelona.

emi/hmw/mg/lth