Uber fines to continue: minister

TAXIS FAVORED::Hochen Tan said that the transport ministry would continue to penalize the ride-sharing app operator, while seeking to develop models to help taxis

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jul 13, 2016 - Page 3

Uber Taiwan is an illegal transport service provider and the government will continue to crack down on its operations, Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) said in a radio interview yesterday morning.

Despite cumulative fines topping NT$62.27 million (US$1.93 million), Uber remains undeterred and has stepped up its campaign to recruit drivers and attract users of its ride-sharing app.

Uber’s move has angered taxi drivers, with protests at the Legislative Yuan on Monday demanding a crackdown on Uber drivers.

The Investment Commission on Monday said it would consider revoking Uber Taiwan’s business license if the Ministry of Transportation and Communications presents enough evidence that the company is offering a transportation service rather than an information management service, which it is registered as.

Hochen told radio host Clara Chou (周玉蔻) that Uber’s business model takes advantage of a global trend of a “sharing economy.”

“To us, what it [Uber] does is illegal. We will continue to crack down on its business,” he said, adding that the ministry would keep penalizing the company even if it refuses to pay its fines.

Hochen declined to comment on the Investment Commission’s decision, saying he is only looking at the facts.

“It is not a registered transportation service provider, but it offers such a service to customers. Therefore it has to bear all the responsibilities of a transportation service provider,” he said.

Hochen said taxi drivers took their appeal against Uber and its drivers to the streets for a second time, which shows that their patience is growing thin.

He said the ministry would speak to taxi operators and help them develop new services using a model similar to Uber’s.

“We are not saying we want to destroy Uber. Many countries around the world are creating new services by meeting people’s transportation needs,” he said.

“These services can be of use to people living in remote areas, which often lack resources,” he added.

The ministry would publicize similar services when they are available within two months, he added.

In related news, highway bus operators on Monday said they would have to reduce services on weekends and major holidays after an amendment to the Labor Standards Act (勞動基準法) takes effect next month that bans bus drivers from working seven days consecutively without taking a day off.

Hochen said that employers cannot go against the terms of the act, and advised operators to negotiate with employees over improved overtime payments or compensatory holidays.

The ministry does not feel threatened by growing tensions between management and workers at state-run corporations, as Taiwanese are increasingly aware of their rights as workers, Hochen said.

Hochen’s performance has been under the public scrutiny lately due to a series of events, from flooding at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to strike action at China Airlines and an explosion on a northbound commuter train on Thursday last week.