Sat, Nov 24, 2018 - Page 12 News List

Uber Technologies alarmed by tighter regulations rumors

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

Uber Technologies Inc yesterday expressed alarm at looming regulatory tightening that could threaten its revamped ride-hailing business model in partnership with local car rental operators and taxi fleets.

The company has become aware of rumors that government regulations on its business model are to be tightened, adding that these changes could impact livelihoods, Singapore-based Uber Asia-Pacific director of government relations and strategic communications Emily Potvin said in a teleconference.

While Uber can play a crucial role in helping the nation digitize the transportation industry and wider economy, there needs to be a conversation with all stakeholders, including government agencies, regulators, consumers and industry representatives, Potvin said.

“We need to have a seat at the table,” Potvin said, adding that a public consultation period would go a long way in moving things forward.

Uber’s technology is capable of harnessing the rapidly increasing demand for rides and sustaining a healthy market that is large enough for the entire transportation industry, Potvin said.

“The company is just as concerned about the diminished income of taxi drivers,” she said, adding that the transportation sector should not be a zero-sum game.

Drivers using the company’s UberTaxi service have seen their income rise as the result of the company’s technology, Potvin said.

Uber is fully committed to Taiwan and being a good corporate citizen, following its return to the nation in April last year, Potvin added.

“We started a new chapter last year and aim to be fully compliant with Taiwan’s regulations,” she said.

However, taxi drivers remain dissatisfied about the company’s concession to forgo enlisting private cars on its platform and subject itself to further regulation by working with licensed taxi drivers and car rental operators.

There are rumors that the government might impose on Uber the same regulations as coach bus operators, which require that each ride exceed an hour and that each vehicle must return to the rental company’s lot before picking up another fare, Potvin said.

That would pose as a major obstacle for Uber’s operations, as well as unnecessarily increase road usage and emissions, Potvin added.

The company is also exploring ways to launch UberFlash, a service that allows consumers to hail the nearest vehicle whether they are a ride-sharing participant or a conventional taxi, Potvin said.

“First we need to get the conversation started,” she said.

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