• Spain's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Madrid starts fining users of Uber 'taxi' app

Steve Tallantyre · 6 Oct 2014, 11:23

Published: 06 Oct 2014 11:23 GMT+02:00

The smartphone application Uber, which links passengers with drivers of private vehicles, has caused controversy since it came to Spain earlier this year.

After strikes and protests by taxi drivers, Barcelona banned the app in June and announced this weekend that it would modify the city's laws to punish users. Those caught by police will face having their cars impounded for up to three months plus fines of around €4,000.

Police action against Uber users has already started in Madrid, where the app launched only last month.

As of Monday, Guardia Civil and local police officers will begin to inspect and fine Uber and its users if they are found carrying passengers without the necessary licences.

Fines will range from €4,000 to €6,000 and could rise to €18,000 plus seizure of the vehicle if there are repeat offences, according to Spanish daily 20 Minutos.

Taxi drivers in both cities are unhappy with what they describe as unfair competition from the app, which charges 70 cents ($0.90) per kilometre (0.6 miles) or 30 cents per minute.

They have gone on strike on a number of occasions, protesting that they must pay for taxes, licence and insurance, unlike Uber users.

Borja Carabante, vice-councillor of Transport, Infrastructure and Housing,  said after a meeting with representatives of taxi drivers' groups that the city would "guarantee the safety of users, avoid unfair competition and work with the taxi sector to inspect and fine pirate vehicles that work at the airport, by telephone or through applications like Uber.'

"To offer a [commercial] transport service, the driver must have a qualification and, if he does not, it is an illegal activity," he added.

The legal status of Uber has been hotly debated across Europe in recent months.

Taxi drivers in Paris and London have publically protested against the app but a court in Frankfurt recently overturned a German ban on the service.

Story continues below…

European Vice President Nellie Kroes dismissed Spanish calls for a pan-European law to settle the matter, saying that countries needed to promote innovation.

Spain's Economy Minister, Luis de Guindos, came down on the side of the app-makers and stated in June that taxi drivers would have to "adapt" to changing technology.

A spokesperson for Uber in Spain recently told The Local. "We believe that there’s room for everyone, and we’re improving transport options for both riders and drivers alike." 

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Steve Tallantyre (news@thelocal.es)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Police in Spain baffled over 'Se7en' style double murder
The brothers were found in a room filled with car air fresheners. Photo: Screenshot from the film Seven.

The killer hoped to disguise the smell of the rotting bodies by hanging dozens of air fresheners in the room.

The Local list
Ten 'English' words adopted and adapted into Spanish
Friki is just one of the English sounding words to become slang in Spanish. Photo: Antonio David Fernández / Flickr

Have you ever noticed that some words used in Spanish seem familiar yet don't sound quite right?

Spain launches campaign to stop English 'invasion'
The Royal Spanish Academy has launched a campaign against the use of English in advertising. Screen grab: Grey Spain/YouTube

The Royal Spanish Academy is fighting against the anglicization of Spanish.

Spanish woman wrongly jailed for 'murder that didn't happen'
File photo of a woman in prison. Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP.

The Spanish Supreme Court ordered the government to pay a woman €60,000 after finding she had been kept in prison over a murder that judges said never happened.

Plane forced to dodge THREE drones to land in Bilbao
Photo: Don McCullough/Flickr

The plane was attempting to land at Bilbao airport in the Basque Country.

Video
Watch: Brad Pitt saves little girl from crush on set in Spain
The Hollywood actor saved the girl from being crushed. Screen grab: MARCADI RIVERSAN/YouTube

The actor turned real life Hollywood hero when he saved a young girl from being injured this week.

Spanish journalist feared kidnapped by Colombia rebels
Photo: saludhernandezmora.com

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said his security forces had launched a sweeping operation to find the journalist.

The Local list
Top Ten: Barcelona's coolest rooftop bars
For a good time in Barcelona head to the skies. Photo: Conor DeVries

After you have spent a day exploring Barcelona at street level, it's time to head to the skies and take in the view.

Spanish cops issue fine over 'All Cats Are Beautiful' bag
The offending bag and the fine issued over it. Photo: Bélen Lobeto

What could be so offensive about this cat lover's bag?

Fearless gay couple stand up to neo-Nazis... with a kiss
Photo: Madrid Diversa/Twitter

A gay couple stood up to the homophopic and racist chants at a Madrid neo-Nazi rally in the bravest way imaginable.

Culture
Ten unique Basque words you need to learn right now
Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
National
'It’s time to dig up Franco' say victims of Spain's dictatorship
Lifestyle
'Severe jellyfish stings' end Brit's Spanish swim feat
Sport
5 reasons why Spanish clubs dominate European football
International
Tesco to bring British tea and biscuits to Spanish stores
Culture
Bucket list: 16 brilliant things to do once in your life in Spain
National
Spain's Civil War victims to be exhumed from Franco's tomb
National
Two mums face jail for leaving kids in car to go out drinking
Education
Students at Spanish college forced to take exorcism class
National
Ten superb reasons why you need to visit San Sebastián
Society
Abused wife saved by hiding SOS note in son's homework
National
Look up! Rare meteor shower set to dazzle skies over Spain
Politics
Why Spain is heading for a Groundhog day election
Travel
Ibiza bans drinking in street… and that includes water
National
Expats didn't 'abandon' UK so ALL Brits should get EU vote
Features
What's on in Spain: May 2016
Travel
Discover Spain's breathtaking national parks
National
Couple caught on camera having sex on metro platform
National
Spain's stunning locations for Game of Thrones Season Six
National
Ten delicious Spanish dishes you must try before you die
National
Forget tampons and use sea sponges, says Catalan town
Culture
Nine reasons why Cervantes is better than Shakespeare
International
Two thirds of Spaniards want Britain to remain in EU
3,248
jobs available