Wed, Apr 24, 2019 - Page 3 News List

‘Innovative’ services ‘must comply’ with regulations

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Companies that provide “innovative services,” such as Uber and Airbnb, must follow regulations, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said yesterday.

Officials reiterated the position at a media gathering, where reporters asked questions about Uber’s operations in Taiwan.

The ride-hailing company yesterday accused the ministry of changing its stance on the firm’s partnership with car rental service operators.

The ministry had previously said that such partnerships were legal, but now decided that they are illegal, which is unacceptable, the company said.

The problem with Uber is that it operates a taxi businesses using its partnership with car rental service operators, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said, adding that an amendment to Article 103-1 of the Transportation Management Regulations (汽車運輸業管理規則) would ensure that taxi and car rental services are regulated separately.

“An innovative service would inevitably encounter problems when it comes to compliance. The ministry oversees the transportation sector and must enforce the laws. We hope that Uber can meet the nation’s legal requirements, which should not be a difficult task,” he said.

The ministry already has regulations governing daily and hourly car rental services, Lin said, adding that the amendment makes the rules clearer.

Uber runs a profitable business in Taiwan compared with other Asian nations, as it collects 25 percent of the taxi fees, Lin said.

“If Uber can share half of its revenue with car rental service operators and taxi operators, then, like the company said: ‘Nobody would be a loser,’” Lin said.

“While we support the concept of the sharing economy, the service must follow the regulations set by the government of the country in which it operates, and the benefits should be shared in such a way that nobody loses,” he added.

Although Uber has said that it is an information platform, it offers the UberTaxi service in other nations, Lin said, questioning why the company did not do so in Taiwan.

After Uber entered Taiwan, the ministry eased regulations on taxi services through the provision of diversified taxi programs, he said.

Taxi drivers in the program are not obligated to have their cars painted yellow, he added.

There is no cap on the service fee and the company only needs to follow the requirement for a minimum service charge, Lin said, adding that rental car businesses can branch out to taxi services and vice versa.

Uber must register itself as a taxi service operator if it wants to keep its business as a taxi-dispatching platform, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said.

“The question now is whether Uber is willing to do that. It is the company that brings the drivers into the taxi business. It has the responsibility now to lead them in that direction,” Wang said.

The same principle applies to Airbnb, as the Act for the Development of Tourism (發展觀光條例) would soon begin to regulate platforms that allow travelers to reserve accommodations for tours, Wang added.

“We support innovative services, but are concerned about safety issues regarding accommodations,” he said.

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