Mon, Sep 09, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Taxi drivers slam possible extension

UBER CLAUSE:The grace period might be extended as 10,000 Uber drivers have yet to secure taxi driver licenses, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Taxi drivers have vowed to hold a protest if the Ministry of Transportation and Communications extends the grace period granted to Uber drivers before the implementation of changes to the Transportation Management Regulations (汽車運輸業管理規則).

Article 130-1, which has been dubbed the “Uber clause,” defines vehicle rental services and taxis as different businesses that are subject to separate regulations, and that rental services would have to charge passengers by hourly or daily rates.

The ministry proposed amending the regulations after Uber was found using its partnership with a vehicle rental business to engage in taxi services, which the ministry said would disrupt the market.

Although the article took effect in June, the ministry gave Uber drivers a four-month grace period to become legal taxi drivers, which would qualify them to join the diversified taxi service program. The ministry is scheduled to implement Article 130-1 on Oct. 6.

However, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) on Friday said that the ministry is considering extending the grace period as about 10,000 Uber drivers have yet to secure taxi driver licenses.

Lin’s statement upset legal taxi drivers.

“The Transportation Management Regulations clearly state that the grace period ends on Oct. 6,” Taxi Dispatch Service Industry Development Association secretary-general Tsung Hung-i (曾弘義) said. “If the ministry decides to extend the grace period, it would be our turn to hit the street and protest.”

Uber drivers are capable of becoming legal taxi drivers, but they have been accusing taxi drivers of holding them back, Tseng added.

Uber drivers have encountered problems when switching car loans from Uber to the taxi companies that hire them, when they buy vehicle insurance policies and when they take the license exams for taxi drivers, the ministry said, adding that it would continue to help them resolve these issues by coordinating with the financial institutions, leasing associations, auto insurance associations, taxi associations, car rental associations, police agencies and motor vehicle offices.

The ministry said it had clearly stated that the grace period could be extended under certain conditions.

“If Uber drivers interested in joining the diversified taxi service program are unable to become legal taxi drivers by Oct. 6 because they are still preparing for the exam or have yet to pass the exam, the ministry would consider giving a grace period,” it said.

Diversified services are different from regular taxi services in that people requesting them must make reservations through mobile apps, it added.

Taxis providing diversified services must be painted a different color to distinguish them from regular taxis, it said, adding that diversified taxis are not allowed to pick up passengers on the street.

When requesting diversified services, passengers would be able to see estimated fares, the license number of the vehicle they are to ride in, the make and model of the vehicle, the driver’s license information and a performance evaluation of the driver based on passenger reviews, it said.

Companies offering diversified taxi services cannot set the fares lower than those of regular taxis, the ministry added.

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