Bolt’s response to Barcelona’s new ride-hailing regulations

September 23, 2022

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Bolt VTC regulations

Barcelona is a beautiful and vibrant city, home to 1.63 million people and the destination of choice for millions of tourists every year. Such a large number of people requires an efficient transport system to keep everyone moving.

In June 2022, we launched our services in Barcelona. We further diversified the mobility options available in the city and created new earning opportunities, especially for self-employed drivers and small fleet owners.

Our goal is to make cities more liveable by providing safe and convenient mobility services. But the convenient, safe and fast rides we offer in Barcelona are now under threat. 

The city is introducing a new measure that prohibits cars under 4.9 metres from operating as VTC (Spanish acronym for a private hire vehicle with drivers), news that surprised not only us but also the many passengers and partners (especially self-employed drivers and small fleets) who rely on our services in their daily lives. 

What are VTCs?

VTC (Vehículos de Transporte con Conductor) is the Spanish acronym for private hire vehicles with drivers that can be booked in advance through apps like Bolt. They’re an efficient and convenient way to get around, especially in busy cities like Barcelona.

However, new regulations in Barcelona will limit the number of VTCs on the streets, negatively impacting every stakeholder – passengers, drivers, businesses and the city. 

Let’s dig a little deeper.

What does this mean for our partners?

Many cars currently being used as VTCs in Barcelona fall under the 4.9-metre limit, which means they will no longer be able to operate as VTCs. This puts more than 4,000 families at risk of losing their income.

What about riders?

Many locals and tourists use ride-hailing to get picked up in minutes and get to their destination quickly and affordably. However, this might be a thing of the past due to the city’s new VTC regulation.

The law of supply and demand applies to transport like any other product or service. The city’s current policy on VTC licences will result in a limited number of vehicles and, as a result, higher prices and longer wait times for passengers.

What about the City?

Cars are already occupying too much space in our cities. To reduce traffic congestion and pollution, we need more people to use shared rides, public transport and micromobility solutions. 

But the city’s new VTC regulation will have the opposite effect. It reduces the ride-hailing fleet, forcing users to turn to private cars, and promotes larger vehicles that take up more space on our streets.

What is Bolt doing about it?

Bolt is constantly fighting to ensure the best possible experience for riders and drivers. Due to this new regulation, we’ve been forced to think outside the box and come up with a solution that may seem a bit unusual but protects the interests of our users and supports our partners while sending a message to the city.​​

We’re adding bumpers that will increase the length of our drivers’ cars to 4.9 metres, meaning they can still operate as VTCs.

Bolt response VTC regulations

As the message says, “This isn’t just a bumper; this is a new regulation requiring 4.9-metre VTC cars.”

We don’t think this is the ideal solution, but it’s the best way to protect our users’ interests in the short term while sending a message about the counterproductive nature of the city’s new VTC regulation.

We’ll do everything possible to ensure that our partner drivers in Barcelona continue to operate and provide high-quality services while our passengers continue to enjoy the convenient, safe and fast rides that they’re used to.

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