Barcelona cabbies continue blockade

Taxi drivers in Barcelona are entering their fourth day of blockades in the city, as they ramp up pressure on the Catalonia's regional government, over what they see as inadequate plans on curtailing ride-hailing app providers such as Uber.

As reported in TaxiPoint on January 19, taxi drivers in Barcelona launched an indefinite strike after legislation  was passed on Friday by the Regional Government of Catalonia forcing customers to book VTCs (Tourism Vehicles with Chauffeur) with a 15 minute lead time before the vehicles are needed.

Tensions rose as furious taxi drivers blocked off Barcelona’s central Gran Via Avenue on Friday, which lefy one VTC driver needing medical treatment for an anxiety attack, after his vehicle was attacked. It is unclear if the vehicle was attacked by cabbies or by sympathisers to the action being taken by taxi drivers.

In a counter demonstration, VTC drivers parked their cars along another of Barcelona’s main thoroughfares,  in protest at what was described as the taxi drivers’ mafia-like behaviour.

The plans, which were unveiled by Catalonia’s infrastructure minister, Damià Calvet, have stated that ride-sharing VTC drivers would be obliged to return to their designated base after each service and customers would not be able to track the car they hire via GPS on any given company's app, however the 15 minute pre-booking time has been roundly condemned by taxi representatives, who are arguing that since VTCs are not a taxi service they should be booked 12 to 24 hours in advance.

Attempts to end the deadlock were made by over the weekend according to  The Telegraph , with Mr Calvet offering to negotiate a new minimum waiting time for app -based VTC services, if the taxi drivers agreed to call off their strike, however, this proved unsuccessful.

There has been condemnation of violence during the blockades and a call to end the violence against VTC drivers, which has also spread to Madrid, with Tito Álvarez, leader of the Élite Taxi Association, stating that he would step aside if any more attacks against ride-sharing drivers took place.

It is expected that more talks will be taking place to resolve the ongoing situation.

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