45 minutes after requesting a trip in Cabify from Plaza Cataluña in Barcelona, at 11.00, the only VTC vehicle that can be seen in the area appears. During this waiting period, a first message informs about the pre-contracting of the 15 minutes required by the new decree of the Generalitat. Afterwards, another 25 minutes of waiting: there is no driver available in the area, the application is apologetic. A time in which any habitual user would have opted for the dozens of taxis that surround the central square of the Catalan capital.
Cabify, the platform on-line of transport for travelers, has returned this Thursday to operate in Barcelona after, at the end of January, he decided to leave the city – as did Uber – because of the restrictions imposed by the Generalitat. The decree, which was approved despite the ruling against the Consell de Garanties, a consultative body of the Parlament, stipulates that in order to contract VTC services, it must be done 15 minutes in advance. Cabify has returned, but with a trick in its conditions of use, which invites the user to accept a one-year contract, which has no cost (it is still paying for each trip) and with which only have to wait 15 minutes in the first reservation.
On the first trip you have to wait a quarter of an hour, and the saturation of the service makes it impossible for the car to arrive before 45 minutes. This will also be the first service in five weeks for Enrique Artero, a 54-year-old driver, who was hired by the VTC service company. "Auro New Transport Concept"On January 4, two weeks before the taxi strike. "Again I feel like a rookie. During the time we have been unemployed, I did not have to go to the base, and I lived with the uncertainty of not knowing what was going to happen, but I have continued charging the same, "says the driver who interprets the long waiting time in a high demand of users.
Artero is one of the 300 cars that Cabify has put into circulation this Thursday after more than a month without activity, and after adapting the service to the new decree, although only fulfilling the pre-contract of 15 minutes for the first trip. "Yesterday I found out we were going out today. They called us at 4pm at the base of El Prat and told us to continue as before. The only difference is that they changed my car ", explains Artero about his return to work.
The announcement of the return of Cabify has left out of play the Government of the Generalitat, which was not expected that the company would find a way to circumvent its decree. The councilor of Territory, Damià Calvet, has avoided making a statement about it, and appreciates appearing this afternoon to assess the activity of Cabify, while the taxi drivers warn that if the rule is not met to the letter they will return to the mobilization.
Back to work
The return of the company was announced, in addition, on the same day that the discrepancies were perceived between the partners of the Government, Junts per Catalunya and ERC, in this matter. ERC, responsible for the Economy Department and therefore for the Catalan Autoritat de la Competència, was reluctant to negotiate so favorably for the taxi sector. And on Tuesday evening, at a dinner, the ERC candidate for mayor of Barcelona, Ernest Maragall, was against the decree as a way to solve the conflict, and opted for a broad regulation in the form of law. The discussion was moved to Twitter, where counselor Calvet reminded Maragall that he had voted in favor of the decree.
In the midst of political reactions, drivers have returned to work after several weeks standing. The driver Enrique Artero is not aware that any VTC had any problems during the morning of this Thursday. "The only incidents that I had during the strike were that they forced me to stop twice, and a couple of taxi driver friends stopped talking to me." The trip ends at Diagonal, and almost automatically, Artero receives notification of the next trip.