Taxis continue Madrid protest as dispute over Uber-style cars flares up

Taxis blocking the vehicle entrance to Fitur on Thursday.
Taxis blocking the vehicle entrance to Fitur on Thursday. / EFE
  • Drivers in Barcelona agreed to go back to work after concessions from local authorities but unease continues all over Spain

The centres of Madrid and Barcelona saw significant disruption this week after taxi drivers covering the Madrid region and Catalonia took part in stoppages. The drivers want the two regional governments to introduce tougher restrictions on private hire cars, known as VTCs in Spain, run by brands like Uber and Cabify.

Last year central government devolved regulatory control of VTCs to Spain's 17 regions after taxi-driver pressure, as the taxi industry already has more localised regulation. After several months of calm, drivers are now directing their long-standing grievances at each of the different regions.

The most significant action this week was in the capital, where an indefinite stoppage was underway. The taxi lobby have demanded that VTC drivers must be booked by users well in advance and return to their base when not in service. This is to avoid what taxis see as unfair competition with Uber-style cars circling waiting for business.

Amid motorway blockages and pickets at transport hubs, which saw a few injuries and arrests, there was a road blockade at the Fitur travel-trade show in Madrid.

Barcelona drivers voted to returned to work on Thursday when the Catalan government agreed that VTCs had to be prebooked at least an hour before, which in turn led to VTC protests later in the day.

Taxi drivers in other regions are also considering action.