BlaBlaCar drivers threatened with fines in Spain

Authorities in Spain are probing BlaBlaCar and two drivers using the ridesharing platform for "transporting passengers without a licence", a worldwide first for the company, it said on Monday.

BlaBlaCar drivers threatened with fines in Spain
Photo: Richard Giles / Flickr

The Madrid regional government claims that the two drivers overcharged ride sharers by asking for more than just a proportional share of petrol and road tolls, regional transport director Pablo Rodriguez Sardinero told AFP.   

BlaBlaCar said the drivers deny the charges, which could lead to hefty fines for the drivers and the company, which is present in 22 countries and boasts 35 million members.

The drivers risk fines of €4,001 ($4,400) each, and the company €8,803 for facilitating “an unlicenced transport service”.

The Madrid region says that insurance and financing costs for the purchase of vehicles cannot be charged to carpool users.   

French-founded BlaBlaCar said the drivers had respected “the platform's norms and therefore the current legislation”.   

The platform is popular in Spain where it started out in 2010 at the height of the financial crisis. It has around three million users there.   

A company source told AFP that BlaBlaCar employs staff specifically to ensure that users cannot make a profit beyond sharing the cost of a ride.

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Barcelona taxi drivers prepare legal battle against Uber and Cabify

A Barcelona-based association of taxi drivers on Thursday announced it would lodge a legal complaint against ride-hailing services Uber and Cabify for fraud and other offences.

Barcelona taxi drivers prepare legal battle against Uber and Cabify
Photo: AFP

In all the Elite Taxi group, which represents 2,000 drivers, will take on 11 firms and 15 individuals, as well as US-based Uber and Spanish company Cabify, according to Alberto Alvarez, spokesman for the association.   

The legal complaint, to be lodged in Madrid next week, is just the latest attempt by registered taxi drivers in several countries to stop potential customers using the new, less regulated, services which they believe provide unfair competition.

The accusations will include fraud but also money-laundering, tax infringements and flouting workers' rights.   

Rideshare companies maintain that drivers are able to thrive and maintain work flexibility, and that their business model would not work if drivers were treated as wage-based employees.

In late 2017, the Elite Taxi association obtained a judicial victory when the European Court of Justice ruled that Uber is an ordinary transportation company instead of just an online app and should be regulated as such.   

Last year Spanish taxi drivers went on strike for several days, calling in the authorities to restrain the activities of the ride-hailing operators.   

In several Spanish cities, including  Valencia and Barcelona, new rules have been adopted including requiring customers of ride-hailing services to book a ride at least 15 minutes in advance.

READ MORE: Uber and Cabify suspend services in Barcelona in row over new regulations