Taxi Strikes Spread Across Spain in Backlash to Uber

Taxi drivers in Barcelona began striking against “unfair” competition from ride-sharing apps like Uber and Cabify last week. Now drivers across Spain are joining the protest in solidarity.

Taxi Strikes Spread Across Spain in Backlash to Uber

The taxi strike began in Barcelona last week against competition from ride-sharing apps.

Photo by Wesley Guijt/Shutterstock

Heading to Spain soon? You’re probably going to need to figure out another way to get to and from the airport since taxi drivers are striking for the indefinite future everywhere from Barcelona to Seville.

On July 28, taxi drivers in Barcelona went on strike against “unfair” competition from Uber and other ride-sharing apps like Cabify, the Telegraph reports. Soon after, drivers in Madrid joined in solidarity, followed quickly by those in Valencia, Seville, Alicante, Zaragoza, La Rioja, and Malaga, causing traffic jams and forcing travelers to figure out alternatives ways to get to and from airports and points around each of those cities.

Taxi drivers protest against Uber in front of Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf.

Taxi drivers protest against Uber in front of Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf.

Photo by Atelier Gurtner/Shutterstock

The backlash began on Wednesday, July 25, in Barcelona after the taxi union asked the government to uphold the law that says there should be 30 taxi licenses to each license issued to ride-share vehicles. Currently in Catalonia, that ratio is closer to 6.7 to 1, the New York Times reports.

It must be a good reason for them to have a strike, but sure it affects a lot to travellers and travel plans #Barcelona #taxi — Paula Määttänen (@PMaattanen) July 31, 2018

Since then the protests have escalated from drivers striking in front of monuments in Barcelona, to blocking entire roads like the Gran Vía and Paseo de Gracia by parking their taxis and setting up camping chairs and tents. Drivers in Madrid have also set up camp on Paseo de la Castellana, blocking one of the city’s main thoroughfares.

Taxi strike targeting Uber brings chaos to Spanish cities — Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 30, 2018

Because Barcelona’s El Prat Airport and Madrid’s Barajas Airport don’t have taxi service currently because of the strike, you can use the RENFE train or local metros in both Barcelona and Madrid to access each city center. Some local city buses are being allowed to pass through the roadblocks in those cities, but you might want to consider switching your hotel reservations to a location closer to the main train stations or local metro stations to avoid having to carry your bags for long distances in the summer heat.

While the protests have disrupted travel, they have been mostly peaceful with the exception of a few reports of people kicking and vandalizing Uber and Cabify cars in Barcelona last week. Afterward, Uber and Cabify both suspended service to make sure their drivers were safe, but were back on the roads by Friday, July 27.

>> Next: Uber Is Trying to Fix Its Most Annoying Problem

Lyndsey Matthews is the senior commerce editor at AFAR who covers travel gear, packing advice, and points and loyalty.
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