Fri, Feb 17, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Transport ministry meets with Uber, drivers and industry representatives

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications reiterated that Uber Taiwan and its drivers must abide by government regulations, despite the company’s claims to be preparing to work with car rental service operators.

Ministry officials yesterday morning met with Uber Taiwan and members of the Taiwan Uber Drivers Alliance after the alliance launched a protest at the ministry in Taipei on Friday last week, calling on it to legalize the ride-hailing service and Uber drivers.

Representatives of taxi driver unions, taxi operator groups, rental car drivers’ groups, the Consumers’ Foundation and the Directorate-General of Highways also attended the meeting.

The meeting, which lasted two hours and 10 minutes, was absolutely fruitless, alliance spokesman Adam Shen (沈柏耀) said, adding that it was like a dogfight, as the ministry simply allowed groups’ representatives to bicker with one another.

The alliance plans to mobilize Uber drivers to protest again on Feb. 26, Shen said.

Department of Railways and Highways Deputy Director-General Chang Shun-ching (張舜清) said that the ministry responded to the alliance’s request to convene a meeting within a week, adding that it was the alliance that requested they communicate with different transport service groups.

Chang said he did not understand why the alliance was upset that the ministry allowed different groups to express their opinions.

According to Chang, the meeting mainly discussed two topics: the conditions to be met should Uber decide to work with car rental operators and whether the ride-hailing service could be used to serve residents of remote areas with insufficient public transport services.

“We would be glad to see Uber work with taxi operators and car rental service companies, as long as they are subject to government regulations and pay all required insurance and taxes,” Chang said. “We also would not prevent Uber drivers from joining taxi or car rental companies.”

The ministry has stipulated relevant regulations on car rental services, which allow for rented vehicles to be driven by renters or by drivers from the service, he said, adding that the service provided by Uber more closely resembles the latter.

“However, if Uber forms a partnership with car rental companies, the main business entity should be the car rental firm, not Uber, and drivers should be employees of the car rental companies,” Chang said, adding that the relationship between car rental firms and their drivers are also regulated by the law.

Regarding Uber drivers’ threat to stage another protest on Feb. 26, Chang said that they should consult Uber regarding government regulations.

Uber said in a statement that it has been given permission to work with car rental service providers, as long as they meet the government’s legal requirements.

“We will actively seek to confer with the government regarding forming partnerships with car rental companies. Uber will continue to push for the stipulation of regulations for ride-sharing services, which we hope will become a driver of more innovative services in Taiwan,” the company said.

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