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Uber suspends service in Barcelona after new regulations, cab strike

Uber Technologies Inc. will suspend its UberX ride-hailing service in Barcelona after the Catalan government set new restrictions on its business following a strike by taxi drivers.

business Updated: Jan 31, 2019 18:39 IST
Thomas Gualtieri
Thomas Gualtieri
Bloomberg, Madrid
Uber,Barcelona,regulations
Spanish taxi drivers gather outside the People's Party (PP) headquarters in Madrid to protest amid a strike against VTCs (Tourism Vehicles with Chauffeur). (AFP)

Uber Technologies Inc. will suspend its UberX ride-hailing service in Barcelona after the Catalan government set new restrictions on its business following a strike by taxi drivers.

“Hasta pronto Barcelona,” Uber Espana said in a statement on Twitter Thursday. In a message sent to users, the U.S. company said it will keep operating in other Spanish cities, including Madrid, and hopes to “be back in Barcelona soon.” Cabify, another ride-hailing service operator, will inform its users on Friday via its mobile app about its “expulsion from Catalonia,” according to a statement.

The decision by the operators of car-hailing apps accessed via smartphones to withdraw from one of Europe’s great centers for tourism and commerce highlights the ongoing battle over how the service can function alongside a traditional taxi industry which sees it as an existential threat.

The Catalan administration responded to a strike by cab drivers by imposing a minimum advanced booking time for Uber and Cabify cars and limiting their use of GPS navigation systems. A strike in Madrid, where taxi drivers want similar rules to those in Barcelona put in place, is now in its 11th day.

Spain approved in October new regulations requiring holders of car services such as Uber to seek an additional permit issued by local authorities for operating in urban areas. The step aims to settle the dispute between taxi and hailing-app drivers by putting rules regulating both categories of cars on a similar footing, Public Works Minister Jose Luis Abalos said at the time.

First Published: Jan 31, 2019 18:39 IST