Uber urges government to rethink regulatory changes

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Mar 07, 2019 - Page 12

Uber Taiwan yesterday urged the government to consider its proposal instead of implementing heavy-handed measures aimed at protecting the taxi industry that it said would stifle innovation.

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications last month proposed changes to regulations covering the rental car industry — including prohibiting trips of less than one hour and providing any form of discounts or promotional deals to customers, as well as requiring rental vehicles to “return to the garage” between trips — that could spell doom for Uber’s ride-hailing business model, the company said.

The proposed changes are anti-competitive and would damage the livelihoods of 10,000 Uber drivers and their families, as well as restrict choice for 3 million regular Uber users in Taiwan, it said.

The proposed changes are currently in a 60-day consultation period.

To find a solution for all stakeholders, Uber proposed an “e-hail multipurpose vehicle plan” that would allow customers to book a taxi or rental car through an app, a practice that it said has become increasingly popular with millions of people worldwide.

This would provide a “win-win” situation for taxis and rental car operators and drivers, while also giving passengers choice, the company said.

“While we understand the government’s efforts to protect the taxi industry, it should not be at the expense of the many thousands of drivers and operators who run fully legal businesses under the current rental car laws,” Uber Taiwan general manager Willy Wu (吳罡) said in a statement.

Uber said that it has since 2017 partnered with rental car and taxi companies and has adapted its business model to ensure that it is fully compliant with the ministry’s guidelines, adding that it has improved the businesses of other taxi fleets through partnerships.