Mon, Dec 22, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Taxi drivers’ union wants tougher penalties for Uber

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) has been asked by taxi drivers to toughen up its measures against Uber, an application-based taxi service provider, to protect the interests of legal taxi-service providers.

The ministry had previously threatened to put Uber out of business as it has been offering taxi services without first registering as a taxicab transportation business, as is required by the Highway Act (公路法). Statistics from the Directorate General of Highways show that, as of last week, the government has issued a total of 63 citations against Uber, and against drivers accepting assignments from the company, with penalties issued totaling more than NT$4.8 million (US$152,240).

Starting on Saturday, Uber faces a fine of NT$600,000 per day if it continues to operate illegally.

Taiwan Taxi Corp (台灣大車隊) representative Chu Kong-ming (朱孔明) questioned why drivers should spend so much time and energy preparing for the test to become cab drivers, when drivers accepting work provided by Uber can simply offer taxi services without having to pass any tests.

Chu said the government has a series of legally-binding rules stipulated in the Act Governing Punishments for Road Traffic Regulations (道路交通管理處罰條例) that are aimed at regulating registered taxi drivers, but that authorities had simply let drivers working for Uber operate unregulated.

Although Uber seems to offer discounts and other promotions to attract customers, Chu said safety remains the top priority for passengers, who are also concerned with the professionalism of the drivers.

In response to the MOTC allegations, Uber’s office in the Asia-Pacific region issued a statement on Friday saying it was disappointed with the ministry’s remarks. The company said it has been following the legal requirements and has responded to the ministry’s requests and has filed an appeal, adding it had sought to communicate with the government by offering constructive suggestions.

The company said that thousands of passengers in the Greater Taipei Area rely on Uber for a safe, reliable, convenient and inexpensive daily service, adding that many taxi drivers also depend on Uber to provide them with a more flexible work schedule and more business opportunities so that their families can have a better life.

Uber also faces legal challenges in other nations, including the US, Spain, Thailand, India and the Netherlands. In the US, for example, the city governments in both San Francisco and Los Angeles have accused Uber of misleading consumers.

Its operation in Nevada was suspended following a court order. Meanwhile, Uber was banned from operating in Spain after the Madrid Taxi Association filed a complaint.

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