AVIATION & TRANSPORT

Taxi app Uber returns to Spain

In this June 11, 2014 file photo, a demonstrator carries a mock coffin with a message reading 'They want to kill us - Uber' during a 24 hour taxi strike and protest in Madrid, Spain against unregulated competition from private companies, in particular, Uber. (AP)

Ride-hailing app Uber said it was returning to the streets of Spain on Wednesday after being forced out of the country in 2014 by legal pressure and protests from taxi drivers.

A Spanish judge ruled in December 2014 that Uber -- which links customers to drivers using a smartphone app -- risked breaking the law with its UberPop service that enabled unregulated drivers to drive for money using their own cars.

The Madrid Taxi Association brought the case against the San Francisco based company, claiming that private drivers did not have the correct permits to carry passengers for pay.

In July last year, a Barcelona court referred Uber's legal status to the European Court of Justice.

Uber will operate a limited a version of its UberX service that uses licensed, professional drivers instead of amateurs.

"No other launch is expected in the short-term," an Uber spokeswoman told AFP, ruling out expansion to other cities or the introduction of its luxury UberBLACK limousine service.

UberX will initially only be available in central Madrid and some outlying districts.

The company has been the target of taxi driver anger across the world and thousands of cabbies staged a protest in Madrid only last month.

Uber does not employ drivers or own vehicles, but instead uses private contractors with their own cars, allowing them to run their own businesses.

Licensed taxis must undergo hundreds of hours of training in some countries, and they accuse Uber of endangering their jobs by flooding the market with cheaper drivers who only need a GPS to get around.
 

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Last Update: Wednesday, 30 March 2016 KSA 16:08 - GMT 13:08
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