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Uber suspends service in Barcelona after new restrictions

By Danielle Haynes
Juan Galiardo Sosa, head of Spain at Uber, speaks during a press conference held to announce the company's cease of operation in Barcelona, in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday. Photo by Luca Piergiovanni/EPA-EFE
Juan Galiardo Sosa, head of Spain at Uber, speaks during a press conference held to announce the company's cease of operation in Barcelona, in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday. Photo by Luca Piergiovanni/EPA-EFE

Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Uber announced it suspended its ride-hailing service in Barcelona, Spain, after the city imposed new regulations restricting the service there.

The Catalan government in the northeastern city imposed new rules requiring passengers to request rides at least 15 minutes in advance of when they plan to be picked up. The law is a concession to the city's taxi drivers, who have protested ride-hailing services as undermining their work.

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Uber -- and a rival Spanish company, Cabify -- said they are suspending service effective Friday.

"After studying the [new rules], which are now official, the company has reached the conclusion that the sole objective of the new regulation -- and its eventual effect -- is the direct expulsion of the Cabify app and its partner companies in Catalonia and Barcelona," Cabify said in a statement.

Taxi drivers have been protesting services like Uber across Spain in recent weeks. Some 2,000 drivers gathered in central area of Madrid on Monday, using fireworks and blocking roads.

The strike started on Jan. 20 when drivers in Madrid -- like those in many other cities hampered by competition from ride-hailing apps -- demanded stricter regulation of such services.

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