Taxi drivers and their associations across Spain have been protesting over developments which they feel significantly harms their business, and those protest have been spreading across Spain, and will be supported by taxi drivers on the Orihuela Costa on Tuesday.
Not only are taxi drivers facing damage to their business by the number of unlicensed, private vehicles operating as taxis on frequent “airport runs”, they are also facing the impact of a growing number of private rental vehicles, vehículos con conductor or VTC.
The associations are demanding that the licencing sector comply with the agreement of 1 licenced VTC for every 30 licenced taxis, as listed in the Transportation Act of 1987. In certain locations, the ratio has increased to 1 VTC for every 7 taxis, and increasing.
In Madrid, in the most recent protest, about a thousand taxi drivers demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the Ministry of Public Works to demand that the government “complies with the law.”
The participants completed a journey between the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Public Works in about two hours, a procession which required the intervention of the National Police as the protest escalated.
In Barcelona, there was a strike for four hours, which also concluded with most of the associations of taxi drivers convening in rally in Plaza Catalunya.
There have also been protests in other places in Spain, such as San Sebastian, where 700 taxi drivers supported the strike. In Santander, about 300 taxi drivers cut off traffic by parking their vehicles on the two lanes of Calle Calvo Sotelo, which houses the headquarters of the Government Delegation in Cantabria.
The employers in the VTC sector, Unauto, have criticised the accusations of “intrusiveness” and “unfair competition”, as, unlike the pirate taxis, they are licenced by the autonomous communities and the operation is totally regulated and considered, like the taxi, as a public service by the regulations, although those regulations are the ones which dictate the 1 to 30 ratio which is being ignored.
Now, the campaign and campaign is extending even further, with the next main protest scheduled for Tuesday, the 30th of May, in most major cities around Spain, with a centralised protest once again in Madrid.
This time, the Orihuela Costa taxi association will also be joining in the protest, with a gathering outside the Zenia Boulevard shopping centre. The president of the association will drive to Madrid to join the main protest, but the rest of the association’s drivers will position themselves at the shopping centre from noon, and will not move for the next two hours.
Although the protest will mean that there will be no taxis available during the protest, the drivers have agreed that they will still respond to emergencies, if needed.
On Tuesday, there are likely to be major problems on the roads as the taxi drivers carrying out various activities to raise awareness of the message of their campaign, which is simply that they want the government to comply with the law in the same way that they must, albeit at a huge expense when it comes to their licences, vehicle maintenance and inspection regime.