The regional government in Barcelona has passed new regulations for the vehicle for hire sector. These regulations directly impact companies like Uber who run a ride-hailing service. As a result of these new regulations, Uber has once again suspended its services in the Catalan capital.
“The new restrictions approved by the Catalan Government leave us with no choice but to suspend UberX while we assess our future in Barcelona,” said a spokesperson for the company, adding that “We are committed to being a long term partner to Spanish cities and hope to work with the Catalan Government and the City Council on fair regulation for all.”
The new rules come into force in Catalonia from tomorrow. They will require at least 15 minutes of wait time between a booking made and a passenger being picked up. This means that in Uber’s case, the driver cannot pick up the passenger for 15 minutes even if they’re just around the corner from the pickup location.
“The obligation to wait 15 minutes to travel in a VTC does not exist anywhere in Europe and is totally incompatible with the immediacy of on-demand services, such as UberX,” the company writes in a blog post.
Moreover, the new rules also prevent VTCs from driving on the streets empty between bookings. They will be required to return to a base such as a garage or parking lot while they wait for a new booking. As anyone who has ever used Uber will tell you, that’s not how ride-hailing services work.
The drivers are free to ply the roads and accept bookings that they receive on the go. They can also head over to areas where demand is high to make more money per ride. This isn’t the first time that Uber is suspending its service in Barcelona. It originally happened in 2014 after legal challenges from the taxi sector. So if you’re heading over to Barcelona, like many will be for MWC 2019 next month, don’t worry about trying to figure out how much an Uber will cost you there.