Uber app accused of illegal taxicab operation in Taipei
By Kathryn Chiu ,The China Post
June 26, 2014, 12:01 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Following in the footsteps of their counterparts in London, Milan and Paris, angry licensed cab drivers in Taipei on Wednesday accused smartphone taxi app Uber Inc. of operating outside the law.
Uber Inc. is a venture-funded startup and transportation network company based in San Francisco that makes mobile apps that connect passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire and ridesharing services.
The Taipei City Taxi Business Association yesterday filed a complaint with the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) against Uber's taxicab operations. Officials of the Taipei City Taxi Business Association noted that Uber Inc. has committed licensing offenses, including operation of an unlicensed taxi brokerage and unlicensed limo service.
By using a driver's mobile phone to track a journey and charge a fare on the distance and time traveled, Uber was operating with a meter, the association said, which under current regulations only licensed yellow cabs are allowed to do.
In response to cab drivers' accusations, the MOTC yesterday claimed that Uber is not technically breaking the law since it is listed as a leasing business rather than a taxi service provider. However, the MOTC wants to have the app service under control by demanding higher pricing transparency.
Uber has been in operation in Taipei since August 2013. Base fare starts at NT$126, compared to NT$70 for regular Taipei taxis. Each additional kilometer costs NT$30, compared to NT$20 for standard taxis.
Uber Taiwan ruffled the feathers of licensed taxi drivers since May by undercutting the market with a base fare of NT$50, with a minimum price of NT$70. Each additional kilometer costs NT$14.5.
The Taipei City Taxi Business Association argued that yellow cab meter rates are fixed, whereas Uber's fares are set by the company, an unfair advantage from which Uber Inc. profits. Additionally, licensed cab drivers have to undergo criminal and medical checks and pass an industry knowledge test while Uber drivers need only a minicab license and commercial insurance.
Yellow cab drivers' jobs will not transition from a properly licensed, taxed and regulated organization to a company that tries to get along by meeting minimum requirements to the detriment of society as a whole, no matter how convenient some people might find it, the association told local media.