Will Madrid be next?
Less than a year has passed since Uber returned to Barcelona, after a three-year leave of absence. But it’s already planning to leave the city again in the wake of renewed conflict with the city’s highly mobilized taxi drivers as well as the passage of unfriendly regulation.
Late last week the Catalan regional government unveiled legislation that would force customers to request the services of ride-sharing firms 15 minutes before travelling. It wasn’t enough to placate the taxi representatives, who wanted the period to be extended to between 12 and 24 hours. Donned in yellow vests reminiscent of recent anti-government protests in Paris, they called a strike on Friday and hundreds of taxis occupied Gran Via, one of Barcelona’s two busiest thoroughfares, bringing traffic to a standstill.
In retaliation hundreds of Uber and Cabify vehicles occupied a key section of the city’s other main artery, Avenida Diagonal, resulting in three days of gridlock.
On Tuesday representatives of Uber and its Spanish rival Cabify announced they were considering abandoning Spain’s second largest city after Catalonia’s regional government unveiled legislation that would force clients of ride-hailing services to book their vehicle an hour in advance, which would essentially negate the whole point of operating a ride-hailing service in the region. Some are calling it a de facto eviction…