What you need to know
Uber’s ride-sharing service has been considered illegal in Taiwan and suspended operations on Feb. 10. But the company may have found a way back in after a recent meeting with the government.
Two weeks after Uber announced the suspension of its ride-sharing service in Taiwan, it released a statement on Feb. 16 saying that it has reached a new agreement with the Ministry of Transportation and Communication (MOTC).
The statement says the new agreement is an “initial consensus” that allows Uber to “partner with car rental services and operate legally,” and “to continue to provide Taiwanese citizens with safe, reliable and affordable transportation options.”
It was released after a Feb. 16 meeting hosted by the MOTC to discuss Uber’s legality issues in Taiwan. Uber drivers, Uber Taiwan and taxi drivers participated in the discussion.
But not all parties are satisfied with the new agreement. The Uber Drivers Alliance published a Facebook post after the meeting saying the requests of Uber drivers were ignored. This included the drivers’ calls for “Transportation Network Company laws” to be implemented, a government response to the “legal framework of car rental services” and a “timeline for communication across different ministries.” The group also stated that a protest will take place on Feb. 26 in front of the MOTC.
Zhang Shun-qing (張舜卿), deputy director of the Department of Railways and Highways, responded saying that all participating parties at the meeting had an opportunity to speak and if Uber drivers have further grievances, they should seek to communicate with Uber.
This is not Uber’s first attempt to partner with car rental services. When the company entered Taiwan in 2013, the company launched the UberBlack series followed by the UberX series. A professional driver’s license was required for UberBlack drivers because the service only used rental cars. But for UberX, anyone above the age of 21 without criminal records could become an Uber driver, and a professional driver license was only required if the driver was driving a rental car.
Soon after, taxi drivers started protesting, and the government carried out investigations concluding that Uber was operating illegally in Taiwan. Uber announced to suspend its ride-sharing service on Feb. 2 after accumulating government fines of NT$231 million (US$7 million).
But though a new agreement has been made, Uber will still need to pay insurance, file taxes and register as a transportation company if partnering with rental car services.
Editor: Olivia Yang