March 6, 2019 / 2:27 PM / 19 days ago

Spain's Cabify returns to Barcelona under new restrictions

FILE PHOTO: Striking taxi drivers protest outside IFEMA fairgrounds during a taxi strike against regulation of ride-hailing and car-sharing services such as Uber and Cabify in Madrid, Spain, January 24, 2019. REUTERS/Susana Vera/File Photo

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish ride-hailing service Cabify said on Wednesday it will return to the northeastern city of Barcelona on Thursday but will operate under strict new regulations after the local government caved in to the demands of striking taxi drivers.

In January, taxi drivers in Barcelona and Madrid shut down services and held protests calling for tighter rules for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Cabify, which they claim operate with an unfair competitive advantage.

Under the new rules, Cabify must allow at least 15 minutes to pass between when the service is hailed from a customers’ mobile telephone to pick up time.

“We hope that many people from Barcelona continue to choose our service and, in doing so, take back their right to choose how to move about their city,” Cabify founder and CEO Juan de Antonio said in a statement.

While Barcelona agreed to taxi drivers’ demands to restrict the ride-hailing services, the Madrid regional government refused to grant concessions, prompting representatives to swear to continue the fight after the end of a 16-day strike.

Reporting by Paul Day; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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