Taxi drivers pressure to Free Now after their commitment to make the sector more flexible

The decision of Free now (property of Daimler Y BMW) of joining Uber Y Cabify when considering a scenario of liberalization of the sector of cab In the Spanish cities, not much of the professionals in Madrid and Barcelona have sat well. This same Wednesday, after the press conference putting on the table the easing of licenses, several dozen taxi professionals came to the headquarters of the German company in Madrid and demanded a meeting with their managers.

After several hours posted at the door of the headquarters of Free Now, finally the managers of the mobility company met with them. The talk lasted for a long time among some members of ‘Caracol Platform’ -Somewhat nervous- and the general director of Free Now in Spain Jaime Rodriguez of Santiago.

Free Now expresses its support for the taxi, but many freelancers do not want to change the ‘status quo’

In this meeting the manager gave his explanations about the work presented by Free Now and PwC, in line with previous ones presented by companies like Uber years ago. He said that the intention of Free Now when considering a liberalization scenario was more focused on being able to cover, for example, demand on weekends, when there is much less supply than demand for taxis and there are more requests 24 hours a day.

Rodriguez was at all times committed to helping improve the service and helping the sector. But many freelancers distrust and do not want to modify the 'status quo' under any circumstances.

Service improvement

A good number of taxi drivers think that opening their hands with taxi licenses and granting more in cities could devalue theirs. Many do not want to talk about changing the current model or taxis running 24 hours alternating employees.

Measures such as shared taxi can be very effective in reducing urban journeys

However, some measures proposed by the Germans could make taxi service cheaper for many users who still feel dissuaded from using it for its price. Measures such as the shared taxi that are already being implemented in Germany can be very effective in reducing urban journeys, which generates all kinds of positive externalities.

In Madrid he has been talking about this reform of the municipal ordinance for more than two years and the most optimistic believe that it could be approved at the beginning of next year. But there are few advances and there is a lot of room to take advantage of the available technology.

Some of the Free Now proposals would improve taxi service and would be appreciated by citizens

Spanish transport regulations are very old and are written at a time when there were no technological solutions. Keeping rules exhausted by the passage of time despite the increase in traffic and the obvious polluting effects is very expensive.

Some of the possibilities raised by Free Now would involve multiplying the advantages of the taxi service and would surely be appreciated by the citizens.

PwC analysis

On Wednesday morning, the German company presented its study "Perspectives of the future of urban mobility in Spain" to the media, which Free Now commissioned PwC to conclude that the liberalization of taxi services and licenses would save 214 million euros per year for the bank.

Free Now sources say they pointed out that they had not made any concrete proposal but that it was only a report that sought solutions. Before the taxi drivers, the company says, "there was nothing to reculate because it was an analysis."

"The objective is to improve the competitiveness of the sector and we set the weekends as an example"

The objective of Free Now, says Rodríguez de Santiago, is "to improve the competitiveness of the sector and we set the weekends as an example, because sometimes it is difficult to work on weekends" with the available licenses.

Free Now did not talk about billing

In the question time of the press conference this journalist mentioned a study of International Financial Analysts (AFI) commissioned by Uber two years ago which estimated the average turnover in Madrid between 55,000 and 65,000 euros per year. This data scandalized some taxi drivers, who wrongly attributed it to Free Now.

But the study of the mobility platform carried out by PwC includes data provided by the metropolitan areas of € 45,132 per year per license in Madrid and 44,774 euros in Barcelona in 2016.

For their part, employees state that the correct information is that provided by AFI. "That double-shift taxis (let's not forget that BCN work 24 hours with two weekly holidays) invoice € 6,000 per month, it's a reality," said an anonymous taxi driver.

"That double shift taxis invoice € 6,000 per month is a reality"

The system of taxation by modules (self-employed estimate) adds opacity to the real income of taxi licenses and there is also fear of a lower permissiveness of the Treasury with the "estimated" income of the taxi.

The urban mobility sector is a growing area where not only Free Now is involved, but also Cabify, Uber and other agents, who live with an amalgam of mobility solutions such as bicycles or electric scooters. The cake does not remain motionless but is growing slowly.

This favors some taxi drivers who see the pan with the handle: "Free Now craves what we have, the licenses. Well, they buy them," said a taxi professional.