Tour bus operators said they plan to petition the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Monday, urging the ministry to stop allowing public bus operators to offer rental bus services.
Specifically, they are asking for Article 85 of the Regulations Governing the Management of the Motor Transportation Industry (汽車運輸業管理規則), which enables city and freeway bus operators to offer rental bus services, to be amended.
They also want the ministry to cancel regulations that require schools to hire buses that have been in operation for less than five years.
Alex Lu (魯孝亞), chairman of the Taipei Tour Bus Association, said it was unfair that public bus operators were able to receive government subsidies for offering public transportation services and be able to provide rental bus services as a sideline. He said the situation would cause licensed tour bus operators to lose up to 15 percent of their revenue if it continues.
Lu offered Metropolitan Transportation Corp of Taipei as an example, saying it has applied for government subsidies for the 800 buses it owns.
“Given that Taipei also has an MRT system, the company only needs 500 of its buses for the public transportation system, but they have 800,” Lu said. “The company is then able to use 300 buses for its bus rental service.”
Lu accused the Taiwan Provincial Public Bus Union of favoring large operators. He also urged the government to adhere to the definitions laid out in Article 34 of the Highway Act (公路法), which says city bus operators and tour bus operators should offer different services.
Should the government ignore its petition, the association said it would not rule out staging a large protest.
According to Article 2 of the Highway Act, public bus operators are defined as those offering public transportation services on pre-approved routes, whereas the tour bus operators offer rental services in pre-approved areas.
However, the Taiwan Provincial Bus Union said tour bus operators have misinterpreted the regulations.
“We simply offer bus rental services along the bus routes on which we already operate,” union representative Fang Sen-de (方森德) said.
The union says a majority of the bus rental requests come from schools that want to send students home on charter bus services. Without the express charter bus service, the students would need to go to bus stops and use public transport to get home.
While some of the buses are rented as tour buses that operate out of cities, the union said public bus operators do not receive subsidies for this part of their business.
The Directorate-General of Highways said public bus operators do not violate the regulations if they offer bus rental services on pre-approved bus routes.
“Article 85 of the Regulations Governing the Management of the Motor Transportation Industry, as well as Article 34 of the Highway Act, were drawn up with the convenience of the public in mind,” the highways bureau said.