The government should ask Uber Taiwan to provide certain service data as a condition to allow it to charge more flexible rates, former minister of transportation and communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) said yesterday.
Hochen talked to reporters after attending a workshop organized by National Taiwan University’s Advanced Public Transportation Research Center, who asked him about issues related to Uber, as the government is scheduled to enforce an amendment to Article 103-1 — also known as the “Uber Clause” — of the Transportation Management Regulations (運輸業管理規則) on Oct. 6.
The amendment stipulates that taxi and car rental businesses should remain separate and be governed by different regulations.
If a car rental business and a ride-sharing service provider, such as Uber, wish to form a partnership, the car rental firm should submit a business plan and passengers must be charged an hourly or daily rate, the amendment states.
Contravening the amended regulations would be punishable by a fine of NT$9,000 to NT$90,000.
In addition to assisting Uber drivers join a diversified taxi program since June, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has also considered relaxing the regulations on fares.
Local media have reported that Uber has expressed its desire to the government to run a legal business in Taiwan, and that it is studying possible ways to do so.
However, most Uber drivers are reportedly reluctant to join the diversified taxi program.
Uber, its drivers and taxi operators should all be willing to make concessions to find room for one another to survive, Hochen said.
Meanwhile, the government should ask Uber to provide information related to the demand for its service as a way to regulate its business, he said.
“For example, how is Uber able to give passengers big discounts? Why does it give special discounts to passengers who evaluate the service and put them on a priority list so they are assigned the best cars?” Hochen said.
“This shows that it [Uber] has certainly collected data on the demand side,” he said.
“Of course, it is impossible that it would share all of its business secrets. However, the government should obtain certain aggregated data on the demand side from Uber,” Hochen said. “Only by obtaining such information could the government have a reference when it allows Uber drivers to charge consumers flexible rates.”
“This is also a way to convince taxi drivers about Uber’s strengths,” he added.
“However, innovation should not mean letting other people control everything and leaving the nation with nothing to grow and adjust. Neither should it mean that the government has no way to intervene. This would be neither fair nor reasonable,” Hochen said.
Taiwan would not be the only nation to make such a request, as similar exchanges of information have already occurred in Japan, Singapore and South Korea, he said.
The center is planning to hold three to five workshops in the middle of next month, at which representatives from Uber, its drivers and taxi operators would try to find ways to develop innovative transportation services.
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