First publishedon www.ITSInternational.com
Taxi-hailing giant Uber is suspending its service in the Spanish city of Barcelona.
The move comes after new regulations were passed by local authorities, according to Reuters.
The company started its UberX service in the city last year. But from now on, passengers using ride-hailing services will have to wait at least 15 minutes after booking a ride before they can be picked up – thus negating one of the key selling points of companies such as Uber.
Speed and convenience – as well as cost – are what help make taxi-hailing companies so popular with users, but existing taxi firms have long complained of the effects on their own business.
The move in Barcelona by Catalan authorities comes after protests by cab drivers, and reflects more widespread problems for policymakers as they wrestle all over the world with the consequences of fast-spreading new mobility services.
Taxi drivers are currently on strike in Spain’s capital, Madrid, in part because of what they see as the unfair advantage which taxi-hailing apps enjoy. Madrid’s authorities have so far not offered similar concessions to those in Barcelona.
An Uber spokesman is quoted as saying: “The new restrictions approved by the Catalan Government leave us with no choice but to suspend UberX while we assess our future in Barcelona. We are committed to being a long term partner to Spanish cities and hope to work with the Catalan Government and the City Council on fair regulation for all.”