For a long time, the taxi industry has operated as a racket. Cities worldwide would concede only a limited number of taxi licenses, purposely keeping supply short of demand, thus favouring cab drivers over their passengers. With the rise of competitors like Uber, however, this model was disrupted.
In many big cities such as London and Hong Kong, the introduction of Uber was matched with protests in an attempt to safeguard taxi drivers' privileges. In most cases the protests failed and Uber swept in with its convenient, reliable and cheaper service. Currently Spain is one of the only large countries in Europe where Uber still cannot operate—in 2014, a judge deemed the company unfair competition for regular taxis. But perhaps this ruling should be reconsidered. Hosting events that draw people from all over the world to Barcelona such as the Mobile World Congress, which attracts around 100,000 visitors each year, the city would undoubtedly benefit from some additional rides.
Plus, the app has already proven its worth elsewhere. Having Uber as an alternative to taxis, city residents around the globe are spending less time finding rides when and where they need them. In addition to making everyday life easier and increasing productivity, studies have also shown that in American towns where Uber sets up shop, the number of self-employed drivers increases by an average of 50 percent, while regular taxi drivers’ earnings drop by a mere 10 percent. Not to mention, this new form of transportation promotes eco-friendly carsharing.
With Spain's unemployment rate currently hovering around 19 percent and the air quality in Barcelona consistently failing to meet European emission standards, Uber might just be the easiest solution to several of the city’s biggest problems.