The Andalusian taxi sector burns again with the movements of the Ministry of Development of the Andalusian Government to carry out a decree law that regulates Vehicles with Driver (VTC). Police charges and two arrestedwere the balance of the first protest by taxi drivers against the Andalusian administration’s announcement to allow VTCs to continue operating in urban centers from October 1, although requirements will be established for these measures to guarantee “coexistence” and offer “the best service to the citizen”.
Among these measures that can compensate taxi drivers is establishing special protection zones around airports and stations, hospitals and even four-star hotels and venues for events, such as concerts or football matches.
On the negotiating table is the proposal to establish a minimum parking distance of 300 meters for airports, ports, train and bus stations and 150 meters for other spaces such as hospitals, four-star hotels, courts or places where events are held.
From the Board they indicate that it is a measure that is not included in any other regional regulation in Spain and that it arises from a proposal from the Ministry of Transport itself to a query from Andalusia and that it complies with the State Land Transport Regulation Regulation that prohibits VTCs from attracting customers. In addition, this regulation by distance would avoid repeated conflicts between VTC and taxis at certain points in the affected cities.
There are also proposals to reinforce the information that the VTC have to offer to the administrations for their Registration, thus increasing their inspection and control , that geolocation is not allowed before contracting the service by the client to avoid the capture of users, require professional training of VTC drivers with a test like taxi drivers and a validity period for the training certificate, require a minimum lengthto VTC vehicles according to their environmental classification (4.70 meters in length for hybrids, 4.50 meters for electric vehicles in general, a minimum measure of 4.90 meters to differentiate the service offered by VTC and taxis), and increased inspections and tougher penalties for offenders.
Trading since 2019
In fact, the negotiation that is now open already began in 2019 as a result of the approval of the current regulations of 2018, known as the Ábalos Decree, which abolished the urban services of these vehicles with a transitional compensation period of four years, until on October 1, 2022 , forcing the autonomous communities to regulate to enable the urban service from that date. If there is no decree in Andalusia that day, the VTCs will not be able to provide service in urban centers.
Aragon, Catalonia, the Balearic Islands, the Basque Country, Galicia, Valencia and Murcia have already regulated the services of VTC-licensed vehicles, generally requiring a pre-contract time of 15 to 60 minutes, and have received million-dollar property claims from companies VTC, existing contradictory judicial resolutions throughout Spain. “However, the European Commission recently published a communication on good regulatory practices in the sector with recommendations to review and adapt the regulations to the guidelines and free competition that avoid unnecessary and harmful restrictions and limits on market access, among them, it is recommended avoid pre-contracting with time or returning to the base”, recalls Fomento.
The Board insists on the need for a state standard and not 17 different models
“We defend that in Spain there cannot be 17 different models of VTC regulation and that, therefore, it must be the Government of Pedro Sánchez that approves a regulation for the entire country, but given its inaction and its decision to attribute the communities this regulation, we have decided to approve a decree law”, the councilor said days ago after meeting with representatives of the Andalusian taxi.
The counselor has assured that the future norm is still being negotiated and that it is not sought to “damage the taxi”. The three communities with the highest number of VTC licenses are Madrid (8,266), Andalucía (3,256), Cataluña (2,580) and Comunidad Valencia (681). Andalusia concentrates 19% of the VTC authorizations that exist in Spain and the proportion is one VTC for every 2.7 taxis, since 8,782 taxis are registered.
In practice, almost all of the VTCs that operate in Andalusia are concentrated in Seville, the city of Malaga and the Costa del Sol area. In the rest of the towns their presence is testimonial.
taxi driver’s anger
“They have deceived us, in essence they have deceived us,” argued Francisco de la Piedra Vega, representative of the Andalusian Federation of Self-Employed Taxi (FAAT), during Thursday’s protest at the gates of Parliament that ended with police charges and two arrested . The taxi drivers consider that “overnight and with the absolute majority of the PP, the discourse has changed completely” in San Telmo and they feel “betrayed” before the movement of the Ministry, which they have warned that they will not hesitate to appeal to the courts.
“Let them know that we are going to denounce if they continue with this regulation that they intend to do. They will know what they are doing,” he has pointed out both in relation to the Minister of Public Works, Marifrán Carazo – who was appearing in the department’s commission in Parliament — as well as the entire Board.
There are reasons to fear an escalation of tension and episodes of violence. In 2017 there were already serious disturbances with the burning of nine Cabify cars as the most prominent episode.
The rental associations of Transport Vehicles with Driver (VTC) of Andalusia, Andeval and Unauto VTC have warned that the demands of the taxi to the Junta de Andalucía “would condemn the sector to its disappearance” due to the “expropriation of licenses and arbitrary restrictions to your activity.
Both organizations have warned through a statement that the “pressures” to “eliminate these public services to Andalusian mobility users” consist, “among others, in the establishment of disproportionate restrictions on the sector’s operations that could, as minimum, eliminate 25% of the services currently enjoyed by users in Andalusia, with the extinction of up to 8,500 jobs and significant damage to the economy of the region”.
“The restrictions that the taxi sector is proposing to the Ministry of Development, Articulation of the Territory and Housing contemplate, among others, the establishment of a minimum length for VTC vehicles, a minimum pre-contract time, as in Catalonia, and the obligation that the authorizations have provided service during the last 12 months”, they added.