TAXI drivers across Spain have mounted an angry protest against the influx of online carpooling apps.
Commuters – mainly in Madrid – were left stranded this month after cab drivers turned off their engines in a show of support against new apps which they claim are driving away business.
These apps, including Uber and BlaBlaCar, match drivers who have spare seats in their car with passengers, and they then agree on how to split the petrol costs.
The Catalan regional government attempted to impose a ban on Uber – which only operates in Barcelona – but it was rejected by the European Council in Brussels.
The city has even threatened drivers using Uber with €6,000 fines, as well as the impounding of their vehicles.
Spain’s taxi drivers’ associations are mostly angry about the fact the drivers are unregulated.
A licence for taxi drivers costs between €80,000 and €200,000, and they are arguing the same rules should apply to anybody offering lifts for cash.
However, BlaBlaCar – the biggest carpooling app in Spain – claims there is no need for regulation and that any drivers found to be making the same journeys regularly for profit are expelled from the system.
It maintains that simply sharing travel expenses is not against the law.
These cabbies are wasting their breath. It’s pointless doing a King Canute on this. Technology will sweep all before it. On-line shopping will do away with many trades, this is just another aspect of it. These guys would be better employed driving the delivery vans for the new on-line businesses.
Even the car-pooling outlined here, will be superseded by driverless cars (sooner than anyone thinks).
If taxi drivers charged reasonable rates, people would use them on a more regular basis. They’ve ruined it for themselves.