Uber resumes ride-hailing service in Taiwan

A press conference yesterday announcing the return of Uber's ride-hailing service. Local taxi firms and the Taiwanese authorities had earlier this year accused Uber of misrepresenting its service.
A press conference yesterday announcing the return of Uber's ride-hailing service. Local taxi firms and the Taiwanese authorities had earlier this year accused Uber of misrepresenting its service.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

Operations halted in February over rising penalties; unclear if issues have been resolved

TAIPEI • Uber Technologies said it will resume its ride-hailing service in Taiwan yesterday after "constructive talks" with the island's authorities, ending a two-month suspension that came after mounting fines from the government.

"After constructive talks with the transportation authorities, we are now partnering with licensed rental car companies to resume serving riders in Taipei," Uber said in a statement.

The resumption of service comes after the United States-based ride-hailing service halted operations on the island on Feb 10, after higher penalties of as much as NT$25 million (S$1.2 million) per infraction took effect from the island's Ministry of Transportation and Communications.

"Starting today, people in Taipei can book an Uber ride, and we expect to bring Uber back to other cities in the near future," said Mr Likai Gu, general manager of Uber Taiwan. "We want to partner with more transportation service partners in the weeks and months to come, whether they be from rental car companies or the taxi industry."

Uber, headquartered in San Francisco, has faced legal scrutiny in markets across Asia, including in Macau and Japan.

SEEKING MORE PARTNERS

Starting today, people in Taipei can book an Uber ride, and we expect to bring Uber back to other cities in the near future... We want to partner with more transportation service partners in the weeks and months to come, whether they be from rental car companies or the taxi industry.

MR LIKAI GU, general manager of Uber Taiwan.

In Taiwan, at issue for Uber was that it said it operated as an Internet-based technology platform rather than as a transportation company, which local taxi companies and the Taiwanese authorities have said is a misrepresentation of its service.

The Taiwanese authorities earlier this year raised fines against unlicensed ride-sharing services, targeted at Uber, which the company said at the time were the highest in the world.

It was unclear if the restart of Uber's operations in Taiwan meant all the issues with the authorities had been resolved.

In the long-running dispute, Taiwan had maintained that Uber's business was illegal, and at one point last year even considered ordering it to leave the domestic market. However, Uber proponents, many of them individual drivers with cars in Taiwan, staged counter-protests to support the business opportunities they said the Uber platform provided.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2017, with the headline 'Uber resumes ride-hailing service in Taiwan'. Print Edition | Subscribe