Spanish ride-hailing service Cabify has announced its return to Barcelona as of today. This new development follows more than a month of being not available in the city due to a set of new regulations that Barcelona authorities passed in January under pressure from traditional taxi companies.
Uber, which also had to stop operating in Barcelona on January 31, has yet to return to the city.
Over the five weeks of hiatus, Cabify apparently has adjusted its platform to the new requirements of Barcelona's authorities, such as:
- The minimum waiting time between the booking of the car and its arrival has to be at least 15 minutes. (Taxi associations in Spain were also against this requirement — but they think the time is too short.)
- Cabify's cars are not allowed to roam freely on the streets while waiting for the next order. Instead, they're required to return to a base, such as a parking lot or a garage, and wait there.
- Ride-hailing services are also not allowed to show in real time where the available cars are in the city before the booking is made.
These regulations do not extend to taxi companies but only imposed on the holders of so-called “vehicle-for-hire” licences, or VTC. Both Cabify and Uber operated in Barcelona under this type of licence.
Update: According to a report by El Pais (via TechCrunch), Cabify has actually found a way to circumvent the waiting time restriction. By accepting the app's new Terms and Conditions, users in Barcelona will supposedly sign a year-long contract with a VTC company. This arrangement would allow Cabify to only impose the 15-minute waiting time on the first order from each user.
For more on Uber and Cabify's struggle in Barcelona, check out our recent podcast: