24-Hour Taxi Strike

MOT Taxi Rank OnLYou might have trouble catching a taxi today because there is a nationwide strike in this sector – the only regions not affected are Asturias and Castilla y León.

What has sparked this was a Supreme Court decision to permit more Uber and Cabify-type licences, known in Spain by the French term VTC (voiture de tourisme avec chauffeur).

Basically, this quasi-taxi service is making a serious dent in the taxi sector’s revenue. Furthermore, to become a taxi driver requires much more stringent requirements than those required of Uber and Cabify drivers. Taxi licences are also much more difficult to obtain as they are restricted to a quota based on the size of the population.

The 24-hour strike began at 06.00h this morning and the taxi-driver associations expect over 20,000 participants at a protest march that is being held in Madrid.

But there are divisions within the taxi sector itself owing to offer called MyTaxi, which gives 50% off for users, explained the Marketing Manager for MyTaxi, Sandra Sancho. However, this way of competing with Uber and Cabify did not receive consensus across the board within the sector, because some consider it “dumping.”

Miguel Ángel Leal, who is the Chairman of the Federación Española del Taxi (Fedetaxi), which represents 70% of licence-owning, taxi drivers, considers that the MyTaxi system is a “perversion of the taxi rates,” aiming to destroy competition and take over the sector.

MyTaxi pays the taxi drivers the full fare to compensate for only charging half the real amount to the passenger. In other words, it’s the company (MyTaxi) that absorbs the cost of cutting fares to the user and thus is legal; if taxi drivers did it off their own backs, it would be illegal. Taxi drivers who use MyTaxi are not charged for joining the company, by the way.

So you have Uber and Cabify undercutting the taxi sector and within the latter a company that is undercutting normal taxi companies too.

Editorial comment: Taxi and Pharmacy licences have always been controlled in Spain with numbers limited in relation to the population of the town in which they are based. It’s been a closed-shop affair with licences being passed down the generations or bought and sold and very high prices. Now, in the case of taxis, modern technology is making the old ways obsolete, for better or for worse. Technology moves on leaving certain sectors high and dry; ask the Telex companies, for example.

(News: Spain)

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