Uber – The Growing Concern for Taxi Drivers in Benidorm

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Having seen the recent press coverage and personally been caught up in the traffic whilst the taxi drivers strike I decided to dig a little deeper.  It's now clear the reason is ‘Uber’, a location based app that matches you with a local private Uber driver.  Uber is widely used throughout the UK, Europe and USA.

We first discovered Uber on a recent trip to the States.  Having never used the app before we were a little nervous, however it couldn't have been easier, simply pop in your destination, select the price you want to pay and the closest driver to you.  You then receive a notification with the details of the driver and the car, two minutes later the taxi arrives.  The price is fixed regardless of time in traffic, route taken and all payments are done electronically including the option of leaving a tip nothing could be simpler.

Switch back to a conventional taxi.  Although we drive, we also use taxis on a regular bases and most of the times the journey is the same.  However there have been a few occasions recently where the fare has been almost double because the driver has decided to take a slightly different route and we've been stuck in traffic.  We've also had taxis into Benidorm where the driver has once again taken the least direct route.  Obviously this works in their favour. This does not happen with Uber, the price you select is the price you pay, it’s usually cheaper, there are no additional charges for being stuck in traffic or for coming to collect you.  You do however incur a charge if you keep the driver waiting for more than two minutes so there are pros and cons of course.

Uber is readily available in Malaga, Madrid, Barcelona, Benalmadena to name a few, however it is strongly protested against by the traditional taxi drivers.  One has to ask why and the answer appears to be quite simple - taxis in Spain are run along the lines of a “closed shop”, with licence plates often granted to “favoured families”. These plates can then be sold on to another driver for as much as 100,000 Euro, giving that person a job for life if required.  As you can imagine, this new approach to taxis hasn’t gone down well with many and understandably so.   

There are many bonuses though to using the traditional taxi, much like the ‘Black Cab’ back in the UK or the ‘Yellow Cab’ in New York.  You can flag one down at the side of the street, they are fully licensed and insured, have to pass a medical, hold a language certificate. The vehicles go through stringent checks, are always fully serviced, modern and comfortable.  The drivers are friendly and can give you some good local knowledge and tips on places to go. I'm sure Benidorm and the surrounding areas have enough customers for both types of taxi to survive.

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