With some of the nation’s taxi drivers earning less than the minimum wage, a legislator proposed a law amendment yesterday that would set a ceiling on the number of taxi licenses that can be approved, with the aim of improving taxi drivers’ earnings.
Local taxi drivers usually work more than 12 hours a day, but their hourly wage is estimated to be NT$72 (US$2,31) — lower than the minimum wage of NT$95, which is what a worker at a gas station makes, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chu Fong-chi (朱鳳芝) said.
“That [wage level] is difficult for a taxi driver to earn a living,” Chu said, who was citing statistics from the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ Institute of Transportation.
Chu said there is a severe over-supply of taxi licenses, as the ministry’s statistics showed that among a total of 115,895 taxi licenses granted in Taiwan, about 25 percent — or 29,016 licenses, are not being used.
Chu said that under existing laws, even if there is a decline in the country’s population, taxi licenses already in circulation cannot be recalled.
“That has caused the vacancy rate of taxis to reach 80 percent and the waste of fuel in vacant taxis has totaled nearly NT$6.3 billion in a year,” she said.
Hung Chin-tsun (洪金村), -the director--general of a taxi association in Taipei City, agreed that the existing laws should be revised to let the government recall excessive taxi licenses to meet real market demand.
Chu said the high taxi vacancy rate and an over-supply of taxi licenses were all reflected on taxi driver’s low earnings.
She proposed that while the government sets the number of taxi licenses to be granted for different regions, it should also take local taxi markets’ vacancy rate as well as the area’s public transportation system into consideration.
However, some independent taxi drivers are concerned that they may lose their licenses if the law is revised.