Central Madrid came to a standstill when angry cabbies took to the streets to protest against new, cut price competitors such as Uber.
On February 18, thousands of taxi drivers took part in a demonstration not dissimilar from the recent uproar in neighbouring France. Blasting firecrackers and beeping horns, French cabbies were also present at the protest in Madrid and placards were seen with statements such as, ´No to unfair competition´.
Uber and other similar cut-price taxi and car sharing companies such as Cabify and Blabla car are now facing demonstrations across the globe for the potential massive loss of business to local taxi drivers.
Although Uber is currently not operating in Spain whilst the authorities decide if the company is legally viable, other similar low cost, car sharing services are present.
Currently Spain’s regulatory taxi agency CNMC is due to issue a proposal next week which will call for more freedom for collaborative economy services. This will offer consumers a greater freedom of choice and potentially better low cost deals for certain sectors such as car–sharing and taxi rides. The Spanish regulator says that traditional businesses should be encouraged to compete.
“If we don’t unite, we will go to ruin,” said cabby, Fernando Gomez, 57.
Taxi licences in Spain require drivers to undergo hundreds of hours of training and have very tight controls whereas companies such as Uber threaten the licensed cabbies by flooding the market with untrained, un-licensed drivers who use their own cars.