Expats in Spain enduring travel chaos due to taxi strike

Published:  2 Aug at 6 PM
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Local taxi demonstrations against ride-hailing apps such as Uber are now common across continents, with Spain the latest expat hub to be caught in the confusion.

The Spanish version of anti-Uber protests started last Monday in Barcelona and had spread to Madrid by the weekend. Taxi drivers are demanding the government take action against ride-hailing apps as they unfairly threaten their livelihoods. Partial stoppages and actual withdrawal of traditional taxi services are now in place in Valencia, Bilbao, Zaragosa and Seville and are expanding to cover the popular southern coastal resort regions just as the high tourist season reaches its peak.

Talks have been held between drivers from the taxi associations and Spain’s public works ministry, but have ended without any deal being struck. Negotiators told the press they’re in favour of continuing strike action, but will be taking a ballot at an upcoming assembly. The unrest began after Spanish lawmakers won an appeal on a ruling limiting the number of taxi licenses given to drivers offering Uber-style services. The various Spanish taxi driver federations are urging the government to enforce a law which states a minimum of 30 traditional licensed taxis for every Uber-style taxi license issued. The drivers’ argument is simple – their licenses cost far more than do licenses granted to ride-hailing taxis.

At the present time, the taxi associations are threatening to blockade airports, ports and even Spain’s border with France should the government not deal with their demands. The issue is hotting up since last week, when claims were made that Uber drivers were physically attacked by traditional taxi drivers in Barcelona, one of Spain’s major tourism destinations. The unrest and demonstrations are expected to hit hard on Spanish tourist regions such as the Costa del Sol, now crowded with peak season visitors needing rides to and from popular sights and hotels.
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