FILE PHOTO: Taxi drivers protest against rising fuel prices, with a slow march along the Gran Via in Barcelona, Spain, March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Horaci Garcia
BARCELONA, Feb 27 (Reuters) – Catalonia’s regional government is tackling the problem of long taxi lines ahead of the world’s largest telecommunications congress, which begins in Barcelona on Monday, by easing restrictions on platforms such as Uber and cabify.
Mobile World Congress (MWC) hopes to attract some 80,000 delegates from around the world this year, but there have been long taxi lines outside the venue in the past.
The Catalan authorities have relaxed the rules so that transport vehicles with a driver (VTC) from all over Spain can operate in Barcelona between February 24 and March 7.
In September last year, the central government asked Spanish regional governments to establish new rules for VTCs booked through mobile platforms such as Uber, Bolt and local rival Cabify, following protests by taxi drivers over unfair competition.
Some regions, such as Madrid and Andalusia, allowed drivers to continue operating as before, but others, such as Barcelona, introduced more restrictive measures.
Ignacio Manzano, Vice President of Feneval, the National Business Federation for Vehicle Rentals with and Without Driver, affirms that the relaxation of the rules in Barcelona on the occasion of the MWC shows that the city does not have enough taxis during the big congresses.
“There is a lack of alternatives to move around Barcelona since the Catalan government introduced restrictions,” he said in a statement.
“This grace period is an acknowledgment that the current restrictions are not in the best interests of the city.”
A Catalan government spokesman said that an exception has been introduced at the request of the Barcelona city council for these vehicles to provide service for ten days.
(Reporting by Graham Keeley; Editing in Spanish by Flora Gómez)
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