Taxi drivers oppose the liberalization of Ayuso: “It is very serious that they have not counted on us”
September is a date marked in red for the future of drivers of chauffeur-driven transport vehicles (VTC) in Spain. As of October this year, once the current Royal Decree Law 13/2018 approved by the Central Government has expired, the autonomous communities they are obliged to legislate in this field, because otherwise they would no longer be enabled for urban transport, that is, they would lose practically all of their journeys. Faced with this situation, the president of the Community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, has made a move with her recent commitment to maintaining the sector and yesterday put on the table a series of measures to promote “the modernization and digitization” of the taxi, as well such as “the liberalization of their schedules”, which, in the words of the head of the Madrid Executive, “would allow them to increase their collection by 60 percent”.
In addition, he has advocated that VTC drivers take an exam to obtain their license, equating the requirements to those of the taxi, although they have not established deadlines for its implementation.
The regional government has assured that it is committed to guaranteeing a complete transport offer to the people of Madrid, promoting employment and competition, so that all means of transport coexist. However, the new measures announced by Ayuso have found the frontal opposition of the taxi, which defends that they are proposals launched without the opinion of the sector. “It seems very serious to us that they do not count on us. What the Community understands as aid may go against what the sector thinks. The norm is already regulated for the benefit of labor conciliation, with the increase in hours the same will be collected, but with more time worked. They will not be able to work more hours, we already have a maximum of 16 hours of work a day, I don’t know where they get the increase in profit from,” the president of the Professional Taxi Federation, Julio Sanz, told ABC.
For its part, the Community points out that, being able to work 7 days a week and 24 hours, “just like the VTC”, many taxi drivers who today work 12 hours would be compensated for the double shift, with an “increase of 100 euros per day and about 3,000 new jobs.
Increase revenue by 60%
In fact, from the Executive they have estimated that, if they availed themselves of digitization, they would increase their collection by 43% and that if they could work the hours and days they want, they could collect 60% more. Also here they have found the rejection of the taxi drivers. «We do not agree, there is no possibility of generating more profits, because we spend more hours on the street does not mean that we have more users. Taxi licenses are already above the ratio, there would be about 3,000 licenses left over. I cannot be on the street 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that leads to tiredness, fatigue and accidents, which is what happens with the VTC”, defends the president of the Elite Taxi association, Javier Fernández Valero.
During his speech, Ayuso emphasized that former minister José Luis Ábalos left the Royal Decree “hanging” by which “the majority of the problem was passed on to the autonomous communities” on regulation and that “it expires now.” For this reason, the Madrid president wants to “update it” but not “let it die and make the VTCs disappear.” “I do not want that. Madrid is a free region where there is a commitment to competition, to technology. We are not the Barcelona of (Ada) Colau that pushes back the VTC and does not help, much less, a sector that is blocked later, “he emphasized.
The regional president assured that they cannot continue “proliferating the VTC in an excessive way” but that they also have to start passing “through some exams, like taxi drivers”, with the aim that the people who ride them are ” in the hands of a person who knows exactly what he is doing and where. “93% of the aid has always gone to the taxi sector and I am a firm defender of the sector,” he added. In that sense, the president of Gremial Taxi, Alberto Miñambres, explained to this newspaper that “all the demands it has with the other sector seems fine to us, but it has to legislate so that there is no doubt about what a taxi and a VTC”. “We demand that the Ministry make the differences between the two clearly, they need pre-contracting, they cannot be circulating on the streets,” he concludes.