Tuesday, 15 August 2023, 13:09
Private hire vehicles with drivers such as Uber, Cabify and Bolt, known in Spain as VTCs, are already a popular transportation option in Malaga, and this has been proven during the summer fair in the city where demand has surged.
But so have their prices, especially during peak times of the Malaga Feria. Unlike taxis, which are subject to regulated fares, VTCs work with prices that vary according to demand. At peak times the rates can get so high they triple. This tends to happen during Easter Week, at the end of a big concert or a large event, and during the nights of the Malaga fair.
This week SUR investigated how the prices differed during different times of the day at the feria. A request was first made for a ride from Calle La Bohème to SUR's headquarters, on Avenida Doctor Marañón, with a standard-range vehicle. The first journey took place before the fair officially kicked off, on Thursday 10 August at 7.45pm. Cabify offered the cheapest price: 10.28 euros. Bolt charged 10.65 euros and Uber charged 11.03 euros.
To test the rise in fares once the festivities had started, the same journey was requested at the same time on the next day Friday 11 August, and there was already a difference. Now Bolt was the cheapest with 11.50 euros, while Uber went up to 13.80 and Cabify, to 15.99 (5.7 euros more).
Later at night, at 10.20pm, for the same journey from La Bohème to Doctor Marañón, Uber was charging 17.98 euros, slightly less than Bolt's 18.90 euros and much less than Cabify's 22.28 euros.
Fares continued to rise during the night, and at 00.30am Bolt was asking for 24.95 euros (although the standard vehicle was not available and the van was going for 27.90). Meanwhile, a Cabify ride cost 29.70 euros (remember Thursday's 10.28-euro fare) and Uber's ride cost 31 euros, almost three times more than the 11.03 euros on the first day.
Why is there such a price variation?
This is one of the two main differences between taxis and VTCs. The first of these is the way in which they are contracted, since while the traditional sector can attract customers at taxi ranks, being hailed on streets or by prior arrangement of the service, VTCs can only provide a service if they have been contracted in advance, and the route sheet has been duly completed before the car is driven away. The other difference is that VTCs set their prices according to demand. This freedom is not available to taxis, which depend on the maximum fares set by each local council for urban journeys, and those set by the regions for inter-urban journeys (between different municipalities).
The Andalusian decree in force since October 2022 proposes a regulation against "abusive prices", but it is still in the works. In an attempt to protect consumers, the Andalusian decree regulating the activity of VTCs from 1 October 2022 establishes that in order to avoid "abusive prices in situations of high demand" such as large sporting events, fairs, congresses, or any other with a great potential to attract passengers, "the competent transport administration may establish a maximum fare that in no case may be exceeded".
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