Coming in the spring of 2018, the Members of the Portuguese Committee on Economy will vote point by point on the new regulation of electronic platform private transport services. Uber has been operating in Portugal for several years and since the company's arrival in Lisbon several alternatives have been launched in the Portuguese market.
The problem has always been the lack of regulation regarding the activity, as it competes directly with the taxi sector and is a sensitive subject that has been standing for months in Parliament.
The most controversial points:
Contingency: While the parliamentary left requires a contingent to limit the number of automobiles to serve these platforms, the Government and the right do not see the need for such a limitation. This is one of the red lines for taxi drivers and promises to be the hottest spots in the discussion.
Training: This is another article that promises to warm up the vote. The CDS wants 80 hours training for drivers, while the Government and PSD suggest something shorter: only 50 hours. The left wants drivers to have the same training as taxi drivers, with the PCP even requiring drivers to have "taxi driver certificate".
Payments: Payments on this type of platform are processed digitally. But while the left believes that the citizen should have the right to pay the service in cash, the right prefers not to deal with this aspect and wants purely digital payments.
Dynamic tariffs: Unlike most countertops, the Communists do not want applications to raise prices on the basis of demand and ask prices to be set in a table approved by despatch. PSD, CDS, BE and Government want the platforms to be free to set the tariffs.
The meeting will take place after the plenary session and, on the table, will be six proposals. One is the Government's proposal. It follows the proposals of law or amendment by the PS, PSD, CDS, PCP and BE. Voting is a complex task, with different parliamentary wings having relatively different positions and red lines from side to side.
One issue that the left does not let fall is the question of quota. BE and PCP do not want the electronic platforms to accept new cars in an unlimited way, something that is also required by taxi drivers, otherwise they will be able to schedule new protest actions. For example, the communists claim that cars in the service of applications such as Uber are "subject to a municipal license, which is allocated within the quota set for the taxi service by means of a public tender issued by the competent City Council." The Bloquistas want these vehicles "to be subject to a license issued by the city councils" and be "registered" to a license issued by the Institute of Mobility and Transportation (IMT).
The PCP also wants drivers in the service of electronic platforms to accept cash payments. Moving forward would be a very significant change in the way this type of activity is currently done, since most payments are made by credit card. On the other hand, CDS and PSD want purely digital payments, with Social Democrats being pragmatic on this point: "cash payment" is not allowed, one reads in a comparative table of the different proposals to which the ECO had access.
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Without law, "there are doubts on the ground," says José Mendes.
On the part of the Government, there is an obligation for drivers to take a training course valid "for a period of five years" and "must have a workload of 50 hours", integrating "modules on communication and interpersonal relations, driving techniques, activity regulation, emergency situations and first aid." The PSD agrees with the number of hours, while the PS requests that the "workload" be defined "by ordinance of the member of the competent Government". A novelty here is that the CDS understands that the training "must have a workload of 80 hours", more than what was on the table so far. For PSD and CDS, all drivers should have a "unique driver number", regardless of the platforms they work on.
But the left wing has a different idea for access to the profession of driver serving platforms like Uber. The BE proposes that drivers have a "professional driver's license for individual passenger transport in light or taxi-type light vehicles, designated as a transport driver certificate". The PCP goes further and leverages the base: it wants everyone to have a "taxi driver certificate", like the taxi drivers. The parliamentary left also wants that the automobiles in the service of platforms like the Uber have a coupletic identifier. For the Communists, this identification must be "on the front and rear windows, with a minimum dimension of 11 by 40 centimeters".
The proposals also deal with prices. It is common for this type of services to resort to algorithms that increase the amounts charged at times of great demand. Particularly, this is a matter that pushes the communists out of the bloc: PCP wants prices approved by order, without these dynamic tariffs. BE, PSD, CDS and the Government want the free pricing and dynamic tariffs, while the PSD also anticipates the 25% limit on the commission charged by the platform. One last point of contention drives away the Social Democrats from the other benches this time: the PSD does not want the current driver evaluation system, while the other parties want the evaluations to continue.
Nevertheless, there are points that generate consensus among the parties. One is that used cars can only have up to nine seats and are expected to be less than seven years old. They should also have civil liability insurance covering also "passengers carried and their losses". If deputies can close the vote on the specialty this Thursday, the way is open for the law of platforms like Uber, Cabify and Taxify to be finally voted in general terms. It could happen next week, on March 2, as the ECO advanced this week.
The above article was written and published in Portuguese and has been translated into English. Click here to read the original article.