Taxis and a ride-hailing vehicle outside Malaga's main railway station. / sur

Tourism sector opposes any restrictions being imposed on ride-hailing companies

The Spanish government has said that companies such as Uber, Cabify and Bolt will only be able to operate within cities after 1 October if the regional governments apply restrictions on their service

FRANCISCO JIMÉNEZ Malaga

The tourism sector in Andalucía wants ride-hailing companies to be able to operate freely in towns and cities with no restrictions, while the taxi sector is criticising the regional government for drawing up new regulations which it believes do not go far enough.

The Spanish government has said that companies such as Uber, Cabify and Bolt will only be able to operate within cities after 1 October if the regional governments apply restrictions on their service. These may include prohibiting them from stopping or driving in search of passengers near airports, bus and train stations and other busy areas including hotels, hospitals, shopping centres or outside sports or cultural venues.

Unless the Junta de Andalucía imposes some type of regulation, ride-hailing companies would still be able to operate between one town and another or, for example, between the airport and the Costa del Sol, but they would not be able to pick passengers up at Malaga Airport or train station and take them anywhere else in the city.

Licences in Malaga province

In Malaga province 2,332 ride-hailing licences have been issued so far, which is practically three-quarters of all those in Andalucía (3,202). In comparison, there are 2,740 taxis in the province and the taxi sector believes these other companies are unfair competition.

The president of the Mesa del Turismo de España association, however, has said that clients will be the ones who lose out if any restrictions are imposed on ride-hailing companies.

“We want the activity to be regulated so that residents and tourists have sufficient alternative types of transport, but without restrictions which will affect the quality of mobility and the image of the region,” he said, and added that instead of trying to reduce the activity of ride-hailing companies, the taxi service needs to be more flexible.

The Junta is trying to reach consensus with the ride-hailing and taxi sector, but at present neither is in favour of the draft regulations it has proposed so far. These include creating ‘special protection areas’ which are exclusively for taxis, a minimum distance of 300 metres for the companies to park at airports, ports, bus and train stations and 150 metres from hospitals, hotels, courts and events.

The taxi drivers also want the companies to be banned from picking up passengers immediately and are calling for a minimum pre-contracting period to be imposed: for example, clients will only be able to book a car an hour or more in advance.