Passengers queueing at Malaga airport during a recent taxi strike. / migue fernández

Junta sits down with taxis and Uber-style cab firms in last attempt to reach consensus

The Andalusian authority has been under pressure from both sides over the rules that will allow companies such as Uber, Cabify and Bolt to operate within towns, but says any changes to the draft text will only be minor

FRANCISCO JIMÉNEZ Malaga

Since January 2019 the Junta de Andalucía has been trying to draw up a decree to regulate the activity of ride-hailing firms in the region, but even so it finds itself holding last-minute talks this Monday, 26 September, in order to ensure that firms such as Uber, Cabify and Bolt can continue to operate within towns from 1 October.

That is when the four-year government moratorium on this type of activity expires, and if no regulations are in place the companies would, for example, be permitted to collect passengers from Malaga Airport and take them to Torremolinos, but not to anywhere in Malaga city.

The talks come after a weekend of strike action on the part of the taxi drivers that caused queues to build up, epseically at Malaga Airport and train and bus stations, with only 200 vehicles operating in the city.

After weeks of pressure from both sides, including protests and several strikes by taxi drivers who believe ride-hailing companies are unfair competition and need to be strictly regulated, the Junta plans to sit down with representatives and try to finalise the new regulations which it hopes to present for approval by the Andalusian parliament tomorrow, Tuesday. They are aware that it could be very difficult to reach consensus.

What is best for the public

If any changes to the draft regulations are agreed, they are likely to be minor and focused on what is best for the public. At present the Junta is proposing that ride-hailing vehicles can only be contracted in advance - in other words they can’t be hailed in the street - and they will be banned from stopping or parking in busy areas such as hospitals, stations, shopping centres or outside hotels unless arriving for a pre-contracted pick-up.

The Junta says these "special protection" areas will be 300 metres from airports, ports, bus and train stations and 150 metres from hospitals, hotels, courts, sports and cultural events.

However, the taxi sector is still unhappy, claiming that the ride-hailing companies will not comply and the rule will not be properly enforced, and it is demanding that clients for these companies can only book a car at least 15 minutes in advance, something the ride-hailing firms oppose.

The regional government also wants to ban geo-location of ride-hailing vehicles before booking, says drivers should have to pass strict tests similar to those that apply to taxis, plans to introduce tougher penalties and wants to restrict the type of vehicle used by these companies to larger saloon-type cars.