Cabify, the platform on-line of passenger transport, will return to operate in Barcelona starting tomorrow. The company says it has "adapted" its service to the new decree of the Generalitat, which limits its activity, although in a statement it emphasizes that it is frontally against this regulation. The decree requires that the services of Transport Concertado de Viajeros (VTC), the area in which Cabify is part of, are precontracted at least 15 minutes in advance to differentiate this activity from the taxi's. Cabify includes in its list of terms and conditions a one-year user contract and specifies that after the second contracting it will be able to "enjoy the service with the immediacy of always". In this way, the customer will only have to wait 15 minutes when making the first reservation. Therefore, the company avoids the main restriction imposed in Catalonia.
Cabify left the city on January 31, in protest against the restrictions approved after the long taxi strike in the Catalan capital. The company assured that it would no longer be profitable to operate in that city and with its competitor Uber, it canceled its application there. "The company comes to the rescue of the sector and the thousands of jobs generated by it in Catalonia, with the adoption of a new (and burdensome) business model," explained Cabify on Wednesday in a statement. The company assures that, to return to operate in Barcelona, it has assumed "a series of costs" with which it does not agree on the legal level, but that it accepts to respond to the demand of close to one million people registered in this platform in Catalonia. The company will start tomorrow with a fleet of 300 cars, so it apologizes in advance for the delays that a high demand can generate.
The company trusts that the decree will be declared null, since it was validated in the Parlament last week despite the fact that the Consell de Garanties, an advisory body of the Catalan Chamber, warned of the unconstitutionality of some of the restrictions. "Otherwise, Cabify would be forced to consider its continuity in Catalonia," he said in the statement.
The decree poses several limitations to the service of companies that operate with VTC licenses. The most important is the obligation that services are pre-contracted 15 minutes in advance. In addition, the decree empowers the municipalities and the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona (supramunicipal entity that includes Barcelona and 35 municipalities around it, and presided by the mayor Ada Colau) can expand this margin. The AMB has already approved an initial regulation that extends to an hour the 15 minutes established by the decree.
Another of the restrictions that Cabify accepts when returning to operate in Barcelona is the end of geolocation. As of tomorrow, the platform will not be able to show its users the cars it can ask for, since the Generalitat understands that being able to choose the nearest car on a map is the same as stopping it in the middle of the street with the raised hand , a way to access the service that is exclusive to taxis. The decree also requires that the cars, once the service is finished, return to the base or are parked until they have a new service. All these measures met the demands of the taxi drivers, who for a week blocked the Gran Via in Barcelona and protested with violent mobilizations.
The decision to return, according to Cabify, "does not imply the company's compliance with the new regulations of the Generalitat, which it continues to consider disproportionate and contrary to law." The company demands a broad regulation of the sector.
The taxi sector has celebrated that the return of Cabify implies that they accept the restrictions imposed by the Generalitat. "We will be on top of complying with the regulations, and if not, we will return to the demonstrations," said the spokesman for Elite Taxi, Alberto Tito Álvarez