Vehicle rental companies with driver (VTC) go on the offensive. After days in which the taxi has taken the initiative with the call for several indefinite strikes in Madrid and Barcelona, the companies in the sector have moved file. Until now, they had limited themselves to warning that any autonomic regulation that they considered damaging to their interests and contrary to the law would be appealed in the courts and to remember that the cost of the compensations that they could claim in the courts could reach 4,000 million euros . But today they have gone one step further.
Uber, the most significant company in the sector together with Cabify, has acknowledged that the imposition of a pre-contracting time for its services would oblige it to close its operations wherever it was imposed, in this case in Barcelona. "If a regulation were approved that would effectively force us to establish a minimum waiting time, we would have no choice but to close the service in Barcelona", has declared the general director of the company in Spain, Juan Galiardo, in the program "Espejo Público" of Antena 3.
Thus, following the new proposal of the Generalitat of Catalonia that consists of increasing up to one hour the mandatory pre-contracting time for vehicle rental services with driver (VTC) using digital transport platforms such as Uber or Cabify.
These companies consider that this requirement would mean the end of the sector, which employs more than 3,000 people in Catalonia.
"Restrictions such as the waiting time of 15 minutes put at risk the entire VTC sector in Catalonia," said a spokesman for Uber, a multinational that operates in more than 600 cities around the world, including Barcelona. where he has been serving since March 2018.
"We sincerely hope that public administrations regulate in favor of the general interest: thousands of jobs, as well as the mobility alternative used by millions of people in Spain, are at stake," stressed the spokesman for the US company.
Uber announced a little more than two months ago its intention to reach some thirty locations in the province of Barcelona, which meant the incorporation of about 200 new vehicles and 400 drivers.
This platform dominates the VTC sector in Spain with Cabify, which closed 2018 with close to one million registered users in Barcelona and three million in the whole country.
The director for Europe of Cabify, Mariano Sylveira, has also warned that If the Government approves any type of pre-contracting, the company will stop operating in Catalonia.
The objective of the Government is to regulate the sector by means of a decree law that it plans to approve in the coming weeks and that establishes that VTC services must be contracted at least fifteen minutes in advance.
This measure does not like the VTC sector, but neither do taxi drivers, who have been on an indefinite strike for five days to demand that this reserve time be extended to hours.
The pre-contracting has become the cornerstone of the current taxi conflict. The sector demands that Uber or Cabify services be contracted hours in advance. To achieve its objective, the VTC would no longer be, de facto, competition for the taxi, which would continue to enjoy the possibility of hiring not only similar services but also the instants that it achieves at street level. The Generalitat of Catalonia has offered that the minimum pre-contracting time is fifteen minutes and then each city council will adapt it to their needs. The Community of Madrid refuses to establish any time and delegates directly to the city councils. "The proposal of the Generalitat on waiting time is to shield the monopoly of the taxi," said Galiardo, who has warned that it would put at risk the work of 3,000 people in Catalonia. It is "in nonsense" that does not apply in any country in Europe, has concluded.
In line with what was said by the general director of Uber, Eduardo Martín, president of the VTC employers' association (Unuto), assured that "de facto, if the pre-contracting took place, we would be talking about the end of the operations of Uber and Cabify in the city of Madrid. "It would be as stupid as someone who wants to watch a movie through a platform like Netflix and when it gives the" play "has to wait half an hour, an hour or six hours, as demanded by the taxi sector, to see it" , he assured.