MADRID – Thousands of taxis drivers from all over Spain went on a 24-hour strike and protested in central Madrid on Wednesday against ride-hailing apps, following a court ruling on private permits that unions say will increase competition from companies like Uber or Cabify by 10,000 drivers.
Some 35 taxis led a thousands-strong crowd of disgruntled drivers down a main thoroughfare towards Parliament from Madrid’s Atocha train station, where unwitting passengers arriving at the Spanish capital would emerge to find the usually bustling taxi ranks empty.
“No to the CNMC (National Commission for Markets and Competition) and its multinationals. Yes to public service taxis,” was the choice slogan emblazoned across the banner at the head of the demonstration, organized in protest of increased allocations of passenger transport vehicle (VTC) licenses, which are used by UberX drivers in Spain.
Meanwhile, the secretary of state for infrastructure, transport and housing, Julio Gomez-Pomar, acknowledged that in several Spanish regions the number of VTCs has surpassed the limit of one per every 30 public taxis.
In fact, the latest figures showed there were roughly 65,000 licensed taxis active in Spain compared to some 6,000 private vehicles, which would bring the current ratio down to one mobile ride-hailing taxi to every 15 licensed taxi.
San Francisco-based Uber and its Madrid-headquartered rival Cabify have been the subject of protests previously in Spain.