Uber has taken a more conciliatory approach this time, but taxi drivers are not convinced.
War is about to break out once again between Uber and the highly mobilized taxi drivers of one of its most febrile markets, Barcelona. After three years of absence due to regulatory issues as well as the hostile welcome it received from local taxi associations, the ride-share giant announced this week that it was returning to Spain’s second largest city.
This time will be different, it says. “We are changing the way we work. And Barcelona is no exception. We want to work with local agents to help build a mobility model that is more sustainable,” said the company in a statement. The company has long shown a special interest in the Catalan capital because of its tourist influx and potential for business.
Uber marked its Barcelona comeback by placing over 100 advertisements around the city with the tagline, “More than a journey. Barcelona, your Uber has arrived.” In less than 48 hours, around half of the ads had been defaced, with the word “Uber” replaced by the word “taxi.” The company’s logo was also concealed and the image of an Uber vehicle swapped for that of a black-and-yellow Barcelona cab.
That was just the beginning. On Thursday night, an estimated 300 taxis blocked access to the city’s main bus station, Estacio Nord, to prevent the departure and entry of buses belonging to the transport company Alsa Coaches, which has been closely linked to the sale of the VTC licenses that allow ride share drivers to operate in Spain…