Starting Monday, Spanish police will inspect and fine Uber drivers in Madrid for carrying passengers without required licenses, according to Novobrief.
Fines will range from €4,000 to €6,000 (about $US5,000 to $US7,500), and could be as much as €18,000 (roughly $US22,000).
Repeat offenses could lead to drivers losing their cars, according to The Local, an English-language Spanish publication.
UberPOP is different than UberX, the standard Uber car in the US, because it allows you to split the fare with multiple passengers. In addition, UberPOP drivers use their own cars to drive people around — not just high-end vehicles. Essentially, UberPOP is Uber’s European Lyft killer.
“Private transportation is qualified as such if it is used for personal or domestic transportation needs of the owner or close relatives. […] Under no circumstances, will the private driver receive any kind of direct or indirect remuneration except for food money or transportation costs.”
In other words, private transportation services like UberPOP requires licenses to operate in Spain.
“The main issue is that current regulation limits the number of such permits to a thirtieth of all taxi licenses, establishing a significant barrier of entry for new companies in the space,” according to NovoBrief’s Jaime Novoa, who has covered the ridesharing industry within Spain. “UberPOP relies on private drivers and vehicles to offer its services in a way to avoid having VTC licenses. If Uber were to launch services like UberSUV, UberX or Uber ‘black cars’ it would have to get approval from the government via those permits.”
Taxi drivers protested after Uber launched in Barcelona
. This weekend, Catalonia’s government said it would change local laws to punish Uber drivers and protect taxis, according to Spanish news outlet 20 Minutos. The proposed changes would fine drivers and keep them off the road if drivers didn’t have proper licenses, similar to those enacted by Madrid on Monday.
Uber has been having a hard time in Europe. Its use in Berlin and Hamburg has been hotly contested recently. Paris taxi drivers protested the app earlier this year. Taxi drivers in Spain have protested numerous times since the app launched in Spain.
Unlike Uber drivers, taxi drivers say they’re paying for taxes, insurance, and licenses, and Uber gives them unfair competition. Spain’s Economy Minister Luis de Guindos sided with Uber earlier this year, telling taxi drivers they’d just have to adapt to new technologies.
We have reached out to Uber for comment, and will update this story when we hear back.