Tue, Sep 03, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Taxi subsidies to go up to boost service quality

KEEPING UP WITH UBER?The transportation ministry said newer vehicles now also qualify for replacement assistance, while the distribution rate was increased

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

President Tsai Ing-wen sits in a Tesla Model X, which is in service as a taxi, at a news conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times

Subsidies for taxi drivers nationwide are to increase to help them enhance service quality, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said yesterday.

Lin made the announcement at a news conference organized by the Taiwan Vehicle Transportation Drivers’ Union, at which the union said government subsidies for taxi drivers have helped improve the quality of services nationwide.

The news conference was also attended by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲).

The ministry earlier this year announced that it would spend NT$970 million (US$30.89 million) to help taxi drivers improve their service quality to remain competitive as Uber and other hail-riding services emerge.

The program was designed to provide subsidies to 12,000 taxi drivers when they purchase new vehicles over three years, but the ministry has already approved 4,080 applications, Lin said.

Therefore, the ministry is to subsidize 10,000 drivers this year and the remaining 2,000 next year, he said.

The program’s scope was previously limited to taxi drivers whose vehicles have been in use for at least 10 years, but Lin said the ministry has expanded the program to include vehicles that have been in operation for at least seven years.

Self-employed taxi drivers would have priority when accessing the subsidies, he added.

The ministry would also help taxi drivers cope with mental health issues with assistance from 20 healthcare centers nationwide, Lin said, adding that the six special municipalities would have at least two such facilities each.

The other eight centers would be established in elsewhere using public facilities, he said.

The Directorate-General of Highways said that it needs to budget an additional NT$750 million for the subsidies.

The nation has about 10,700 taxis that have been in operation from seven to 10 years, the highway authority said, adding that taxi drivers can apply for the subsidies from this month.

According to the program, a taxi driver would be given NT$150,000 if they purchase a gasoline-powered or gasoline-compressed-air hybrid vehicle, while those buying gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles would be given NT$250,000 per vehicle.

Drivers buying electric vehicles would receive NT$350,000 per vehicle.

Most of the subsidies are for those buying gasoline-powered or gasoline-compressed-air hybrid vehicles.

The subsidies would be given in stages, with drivers first receiving 70 percent when buying a vehicle. The remaining 30 percent would be released if the drivers do not receive any tickets or complaints from passengers for six months and pass a training course.

The union at the news conference proposed a plan to help drivers enhance their service quality, which includes establishing a training and evaluation system and helping drivers have electronic payment devices installed in their vehicles.

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