• 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
Feature
 Spanish cinema breaks taboo and talks ETA
A still from Justin Webster's documentary The End of ETA. Photo: The End of ETA

Documentaries on terror group ETA have been screened at San Sebastian film festival and met with applause, as the taboo fades.

 Spain's Socialists in crisis as political blockage takes toll
Pedro Sanchez has repeatedly said he won't support Rajoy. Photo: AFP

Spain's nine-month political paralysis is taking its toll on parties, and none more so than the Socialists who are facing a crisis, with talk of an imminent "coup" against leader Pedro Sanchez.

National anthem: Could Spain finally sing with one voice?
Spanish athletes have had to hum awkwardly for decades. Photo: AFP

Spain's parliament is being asked to consider a solution to one of nation's most enduring and embarrassing problems; what words to sing with the national anthem.

Spain's ten greatest parador hotels to visit this autumn
San Estevo parador in Galicia. Photo: rutea.es

Autumn is the perfect time to explore Spain's hidden corners and parador hopping is the best way to do it.

Spain's Basques go to polls as memories of violence fade
Basque regional president nationalist Inigo Urkullu (L) and Basque Nationalist Party-PNV's president Andoni Ortuzar (2nd L) in Bilbao. Photo: AFP

Could the results of the Basque elections have an impact on the national political deadlock?

Spanish parents call strike over too much homework
Do Spanish children get too much homework? Photo: AFP

Spanish parents have called for a “homework strike” to protest at the amount of extracurricular work they are expected to do with their children.

Family seeks funds for mother injured in Spanish bus crash
Julie Ann Fiegert was returning from a holiday of a lifetime. Photo: GoFundMe page

The family of an Australian woman left fighting for her life after a bus accident in Spain are trying to raise money for her medical expenses.

Second headless bison found at Spanish nature reserve

A mystery surrounding goings-on at a nature reserve in Spain deepened Thursday as a second European bison was found decapitated just days after staff discovered the headless body of the herd's dominant male.

San Sebastian Film Festival
Obama-era surveillance worse than Stasi, says Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone in San Sebastian on Thursday. Photo: AFP

US film director Oliver Stone on Thursday accused President Barack Obama's administration of implementing a surveillance system worse than that of the feared Stasi secret police in East Germany.

Car-Free Day brings traffic to a standstill across Spain
Car Free Day meant more traffic jams for some. Photo: Marina Roch / Twitter

Traffic was brought to a standstill with lengthly traffic jams reported across cities in Spain as an initiative to boost awareness of rising air pollution backfired.

National
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
International
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
National
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
National
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
International
Forgotten Voices: What Brits in Spain think about Brexit
Travel
One dead and 14 injured in blast at Spanish resort
International
Game of Thrones want extras 'with muscles' to film in Spain
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Thousands march in Madrid to push for bullfighting ban
Technology
Spanish team invents hands-free 'penis bidet'
National
In pics: Devastation caused by Costa Blanca wildfires
Society
Pregnant woman in niqab attacked by two men in Spain
National
Spanish café offers cut-price coffee to those with manners
Travel
What's on in Spain: September 2016
Travel
'We drank from animal troughs to survive'
National
Forest fires threaten Costa Blanca resort of Jávea
National
Loyal dog mounts vigil at hospital doors for sick owner
Politics
Five reasons why Spain's Socialists won't back Rajoy
National
It's a girl! Rare giant panda cub born in Madrid zoo
Culture
La Tomatina: Everything you need to know about epic fiesta
National
Shocking video shows torture of young calf during fiesta
Police launch appeal for Costa Blanca hit and run driver
Politics
What political deadlock? Spain economy forges ahead
Features
Eight reasons to spend your gap year exploring Spain
3,104
jobs available