Published: Fri, February 03, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Uber hits the brakes in Taiwan

On the other hand, Uber Taiwan would be utterly naive to think it could actually make a solid return in Taiwan's market after the suspension announcement like it did in Macau without toning down on its rhetoric against the Taiwanese government, abiding by established laws, paying the fines and taxes, and safeguarding the rights of drivers and riders.

Uber Taiwan, a local subsidiary of Uber Technologies Inc, yesterday announced that it is suspending its ride-hailing service from Friday next week after four years of operations, marking a setback for the USA company in a years-long dispute with local authorities. "We hope that pressing pause will reset the conversation and inspire President Tsai to take action".

The San Francisco-based company in 2013 launched its ride-hailing service in Taiwan by registering as an Internet technology service provider with a paid-in capital of NT$1 million.

Commenting on Uber's decision to suspend services in Taiwan, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) said it could have been avoided if the company had been proactive about communicating with the government to iron out the legal issues. It entered the Taiwan market in 2013, and its growing popularity has triggered anger among domestic taxi drivers, who staged a massive protest against Uber past year.

The transportation ministry said that as of late December 2016, Uber had accumulated fines of NT$68.45 million for 481 violations, while its drivers had been fined a total of NT$20.83 million. He said: "We need to protect our own rice bowl and hope that the government will not abandon us for new technologies". The company said it has "tens of thousands" of drivers there.

What the government should be doing is reexamining regulations or enacting new ones to provide modern and safe choices for consumers, while lending a hand for traditional businesses to improve or transform in order to adapt to the evolving world.

"Unfortunately, the government has moved further and further away from embracing innovation and setting the stage for a 21st century transportation policy", it said.

The services to be put on hold will include Uber's planned cooperation with local taxi operators, named UberTaxi, which was planned to start this month, the official said.

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