Cabify has returned to Barcelona with half the amount of drivers it had before the Catalan government introduced a raft of regional restrictions on private-hire-vehicle services just over a month ago. Taxis had gone on strike in the city in late January, complaining that the Uber-style services were unfair competition.
Now Cabify, a Spanish brand similar to Uber, is back. In response to the new Catalan rule that private-hire vehicles must leave a time gap between receiving a booking and picking up the passenger, Cabify is using a loophole that says 15 minutes must pass after the service has been "contracted". Users are now asked by the company's phone app to contract a continuous service agreement with the first journey, removing the need to wait 15 minutes on future trips.
Cabify has agreed to remove the GPS positioning map of its cars and only show it once the reservation is confirmed. The company has also changed its business model, acquiring 300 private hire licences, rather than work with each licence holder individually.
Uber is waiting to see what happens before reentering the city and taxi unions have claimed "fraud".