Wed, Dec 09, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Taxicab drivers take protest to Taipei City Hall

FARE WAR A spokesman said collaboration between the government and major taxi companies squeezed the smaller players out of lucrative pick-up zones

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Shouting “open passenger pick-up sites!” and “Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), step down,” about 1,000 taxi drivers blocked the roads surrounding Taipei City Hall to protest the government’s handling of a taxi war between big taxi companies and neglect of taxi drivers’ rights.

The drivers, who blocked the plaza in front of the building until about 6pm yesterday, condemned the local and central governments for ignoring a taxi fare war between major taxi companies, and urged the government to return to the single-fare system to prevent vicious competition from affecting individual drivers.

Chang Bin (張斌), director of Public Taxi Team, said drivers from major taxi companies must absorb discount prices and make only about NT$80 an hour once gasoline costs are deducted.

The companies also collaborated with the government to monopolize pick-up sites, such as the one at the mall inside the Taipei Bus Station, putting smaller taxi companies at a disadvantage, he said.

“The major conglomerates become richer, while taxi drivers are deprived of the right to make a living without joining companies,” he said.

The drivers later honked their horns in protest, and urged the city government to negotiate with the central government to resolve the issue.

“About 80 percent of taxis on the road are vacant, and the money taxi drivers make is less than a part-time worker at a convenience store. You will see more taxi drivers commit suicide if the government doesn’t do something,” a taxi driver surnamed Cheng said.

In response, Yang Chin-shu (楊金樹), chief secretary of the city’s Department of Transportation, promised to invite the transportation departments from Taipei County, Keelung and Taoyuan County to discuss taxi fare discounts.

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