a month with Uber but without Uber

  • The taxi associations agree that the entry of the company would be the death of the union because, they say, it would try to bust the current rates

  • The public application, promised almost a year ago, is still under study and has a two-year window to go live

  • This ‘app’ tries to replace the raised hand in the street but it will not allow to pay with the mobile phone nor will it be a marketer of the service

Uber seems to take for good that maxim that it is positive that they talk about you even if it is for fume. The company announced a month ago its back to Barcelona from the hand of 350 taxis but the reality has been very different: the application works but does not offer the service, 11 of its drivers have been filed and the Administration still does not give it permission to operate because does not meet technical requirements. The company presented its allegations on March 29 and is now waiting for officials from the Metropolitan Taxi Institute (IMT) deliberate. Whatever the answer, whether or not you have the public credential, the union is very clear about it: Uber, nor in paint. And to combat it, they demand that the manager, among other things, promote once and for all the app which should bring together more than 10,500 licenses who work in the metropolitan area of ​​Barcelona. It was announced almost a year ago, but for now, nothing; still under study. Fortunately, it does not accumulate the delay of T-Mobility, that when it is implanted, most countries will already be paying with their mobile.

Atomized collective

This multinational has achieved in the last seven years what seemed impossible in recent history of the yellow and black cars: the union against an enemy even more powerful than the eternal atomization of the collective. In this third attempt to disembark in the Catalan capital, Uber hopes to work as one more ‘app’ of taxis of the fortnight that already operate in the city. But with the peculiarity that they do not offer the closed rate (T3), mandatory, according to the IMT, to be able to work in Barcelona. The president of the IMT and Councilor for Mobility, Rosa Alarcon, explains in conversation with this newspaper that this has nothing to do with politics and that is why she has not been involved in the decision. “I do not care about the name of the company, it is not a negotiation, it is a technical issue that they must resolve to adapt to the Administration algorithm which is the one that marks the closed price “, repeats on a couple of occasions the mayor of the PSC.

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About the application that should promote the public entity, Alarcón assures that the commitment is to have it ready “during this mandate“, which gives a margin of just over two years, a world and a half in technological matters. It explains that it will not be a marketer nor will it allow to pay through it because it would generate serious competition issues, “but it does pretend to be a substitute for freehand“, that is, it will allow you to request a taxi but payment must be made in person or through one of the active ‘apps’. It is not planned to prohibit taxi drivers from driving green (to avoid contamination and congestion) but it is hoped that in this way the usual print of taxi drivers without a ticket through the streets hoping to find a raised arm. Hand in hand with this application, and since the vehicles will spend more time stopped, the idea is expand the number of microstops in all the city.

Not even in paint

A Tito Alvarez, spokesperson for Elite TaxiIt does not matter if Uber enters with or without permission from the IMT. “We are not going to allow Uber to take control of the taxi in Barcelona. To these people he does not care about the sector, he just wants to blow it up and be the dominant voice, as he has done in other cities. They seek to impose their algorithm and do ‘dumping’ (lower prices until the competition is eliminated) to distort the regulated tariff, but what they will find is a united guild“The pressure does not seem to have gone bad for them. Álvarez says that a group of about 1,300 people from the taxi environment have requested together 30,000 Uber services since the company returned to Barcelona in mid-March. “We have only managed two races, and it was in the first days.”

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Nobody is aware that the protests of the taxi drivers have had a lot to do with the decree that at the beginning of 2019 kicked Uber out of Barcelona for the second time. And no one is aware that the IMT knows well to what extent drivers they can get to press. Alarcón, however, says she does not feel overwhelmed by the union because, she says, the only thing they are trying to do is make everyone comply with the rules.

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Luis Berbel, president of the Catalan Taxi Union, agrees that Uber “is the worst that can happen to the taxi“.” If they enter, we are dead, “he says. But he considers equally” painful “that nothing is yet known about the application promised by the Administration.” It is shameful that they take so long, precisely because it would be a ideal tool, and public, to fight Uber and what it represents. “He also complains that the sector itself did not know how to join when offering the service. There are half a dozen large radio stations, and the one with the most license manages less than 500, while in Madrid, with 16,000 taxis, there are 2,000 and 3,000 credentials. “Must cooperate more, and the IMT should force so that we put the batteries and we unite “, concludes.

The ball is in the court of the IMT technicians. If they do not give permission to Uber, end of the third ’round’ and new victory for the taxi. If they allow you to operate, it seems that from the outset few taxi drivers will use the platform because the vast majority, who are against it, will know who they are and they will not make it easy for them. In any case, a wake-up call for a group that is modernizing at a rate well below that of the rest of the professional sectors. For him public corset. And for his eternal internal battle.

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