Cab drivers protest on Wednesday against digital platforms’ pricing model

Commissions paid to digital platforms Uber, Bolt and eCabs are leading to exodus of cab drivers, say Y-plate operators

Y-plate drivers – the cabbies who run Malta’s light passenger operations – will tomorrow hold a slow-moving carcare in protest at pricing models imposed by the digital platforms that source their clients.

The cab drivers, often self-employed drivers whose trade depends on partnering up with apps used by customers, said the platforms’ pricing was impacting their sustainability and earnings.

Y-plate drivers are partnered with platforms on a commission basis: a trip is completed by the operator and a commission-based fee is then due to the platform.

The Light Passenger Operators Association said they want current pricing models re-evaluted by the platforms, saying drivers faced new challeges in the today’s economy. “An independent operator puts forth time, energy and financial investment in order to operate in the industry, and this is being undermined by predatory pricing based on an unsustainable business model, which affetcs the livelihood of the operator.”

Tye LPOA said that it was seeing a daily exodus of small, self-employed operators dismantling their Y-Plate operations. “The situation is desperate, this is a cry for help. As such, we are exercising the right to a peaceful assembly.”

The gathering will take place at the farmers’ market parking in Ta’ Qali at 8am on Wednesday 28 February, followed by peaceful demonstration along the Maltese roads.

In August, the LPOA unsuccessfully advocated for better pay from Malta’s major ride-hailing platforms, a request rebuffed by eCabs, Uber and Bolt, citing unwillingness to consider increased driver compensation.

During the discussions, self-employed drivers revealed that, although passengers pay approximately €1.10 per kilometre, drivers only retain around 70 cents of that amount.