Mon, Jan 28, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Taxi groups seek Uber answers

‘UNFAIR, UNREASONABLE’:The president of the Taipei Professional Drivers’ Union said that the ride-hailing company’s business model contravened the Highway Act

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Taxi drivers protest outside the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in Taipei on May 23 last year.

Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times

Taxi associations yesterday urged the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to quickly resolve problems caused by what they say is an illegal business partnership between Uber Taiwan, the local subsidiary of Uber Technologies Inc, and local car rental operators.

The ministry is to meet with representatives of taxi associations for the second time today to discuss its proposals to improve the welfare of and business for taxi drivers, including parking benefits and government subsidies for gasoline.

Free roadside parking for taxis during breaks was implemented in Taichung when Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) was Taichung mayor, with taxi drivers allowed to park on roadsides without accruing parking fees from 11am to 1pm.

The policy was aimed to allow taxi drivers to rest and enjoy their lunch, the city said.

Despite the subsidies, taxi operators said that resolving the problems caused by the partnership between Uber Taiwan and rental agencies is more important and should be the ministry’s top priority.

Some taxi drivers threatened to protest before the Lunar New Year holiday, saying that the government had repeatedly failed to deliver solutions involving Uber’s operations.

“What taxi operators have been asking for is an environment where they can compete fairly,” said Cheng Li-chia (鄭力嘉), president of the Taipei Professional Drivers’ Union. “Uber is offering taxi services through its partnership with car rental operators, which is an infringement of the Highway Act (公路法).”

The government does not have regulations that stop rental agencies from gaining operating licenses, so they can offer taxi services, which is unfair and unreasonable, Cheng said.

Taipei Taxi Business Association president Liang Ping-liang (梁平良) said that the government should not only provide an environment for fair competition, but also incentives for taxi operators to enhance the quality of their services.

Instead of giving all taxi drivers the same subsidies, the government should help establish a pension system for taxi drivers, but it should set strict criteria, Liang said.

In so doing, taxi drivers would be motivated to upgrade their services, he said.

Last year, the ministry said that a 1959 interpretation of the act did not exclude rental businesses from operating taxis, which might mean Uber Taiwan’s business model is legal.

The Taipei High Administrative Court last month ruled in favor of Uber Taiwan, which gave the ride-hailing service the right to resume operations in Taiwan and removing a series of heavy fines that were imposed on it.

The ruling can be appealed.

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