Carlos Rodríguez Expósito, Vanessa Millán Buitrago: In defence of taxis and public services in Madrid

Carlos Rodríguez Expósito, responsible for Taxi Project in Madrid, and Vanessa Millán Buitrago, Deputy Mayor, Councillor for Ecological Transition and Spokesperson for Podemos in Rivas Vaciamadrid, write for the Gig Economy Project against yesterday’s transport law reform in the Community of Madrid, which favours private hire platforms like Uber and Bolt at the expense of taxis. Expósito and Buitrago say an alternative form of governing is possible in the Spanish capital.

Leer en Español aquí.

Picture by Ra_Fus

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On Thursday 2nd June, the PP government in the Community of Madrid, presided over by Isabel Díaz Ayuso, approved the modification of the transport law with the aim of clearly favouring VTC (‘vehicle with driver’) companies, such as Uber, Cabify and Bolt, a fact that the taxi sector has expressed its absolute rejection of.

After some very hard years, in which the taxi sector has seen its turnover fall by up to 80%, and in which, despite everything, it has always shown its spirit of solidarity, providing services to the most vulnerable groups, patients and health workers, the government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso in the Community of Madrid has decided to turn its back on them.

It has decided to do this because this is yet another manoeuvre in the harassment of the Partido Popular government in the Community of Madrid against the taxi, after years of harassment in the form of inaction on the one hand and legislative shenanigans on the other.

With this law, Isabel Díaz Ayuso has crossed the line, acting illegally and arbitrarily against the taxi, and allowing VTCs to carry out unfair competition, dodging a state law and making it legal to breach it.

A state law, the so-called Ábalos decree (Law 13/2018), by which the government prohibits VTC vehicles from making urban journeys, firstly because they do not have and have never had authorisation to do so, secondly, because of the damage they have created in cities, with thousands of vehicles circulating without control, illegally, damaging both mobility and sustainability and above all people’s health; and lastly, because there is a Supreme Court ruling which establishes that the ratio of one VTC for every 30 taxis is fully in line with the law for reasons of general interest. A ratio that the different PP governments have never complied with: there should be 500 VTC vehicles today in Madrid, when in fact there are 9,000.

READ MORE: Carlos Rodríguez: Once again, the taxi is under attack in Madrid

The Ábalos decree only gives powers to the regional government of Isabel Díaz Ayuso to enforce it and prohibit VTCs from making urban journeys, but which in any case does not allow parallel legislation to be created in favour of these companies. Despite this, Isabel Díaz Ayuso has legislated nonetheless, and without the consensus of the taxi sector to once again favour three large international VTC platforms, which evade taxes, have been convicted of infringing the rights of workers and are currently under investigation for also infringing the rights of consumers.

This is the reason for why we are protesting on the streets this week: the struggle of a sector against a government that does not respect the laws, nor the rights of citizens, nor of course the 25,000 families who make their living from taxis in the Community of Madrid, and who have been condemned to ruin by the Popular Party government.

That is why it is time to be more united than ever: the taxi, health, education…and all of us who defend public services have a responsibility and a commitment: to restore the value of public and collective services. There are alternatives that involve protecting the general interest against those who only want to benefit their friends. There is another way of governing, and in the Community of Madrid we are also going to achieve it.

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