Uber drivers fined NT$331 mil. in 8 days

By Sun Hsin Hsuan, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Uber Taiwan and its drivers in Taipei alone have been fined more than NT$331 million in the eight days since an amendment to the Highway Act came into effect, the Taipei City Vehicle Monitor Office said Tuesday. The office issued more than 130 fines, a cumulative total of approximately NT$331 million since Jan. 6, officials announced.

The figure is four times the total amount the riding-sharing giant had been handed in the past four years for violating local laws. The Legislature passed an amendment to the Highway Act in December last year, raising the maximum fine on any firm or individual who illegally runs a transportation service to NT$25 million. The move was widely seen an official “declaration of war” against the ride-hailing company Uber Taiwan, who had not only maintained operations, but pitched more offers to passengers, and organized events and campaigns to promote the business. The government had ordered the firm to end operations 2015. Uber Needs to Follow Rules: Minister “Legislators speak on behalf of the public will,” Transportation Minister Ho Chen Tan told The China Post on Tuesday. “While the ministry has always held an open attitude toward Uber Taiwan, legislators have made it clear that unless the company abides by current laws, pays its tax, and shows respect for the country by willingly submitting details regarding its drivers, the vehicles they use, insurance details, and how the company seeks to manage driver-passenger disputes, there is no way this ride-sharing business can be accepted in the country.” Uber Taiwan registered as an information service platform in Taiwan, but authorities have decided that its operations fall in the category of transportation services instead, in which case the company and all its drivers require professional drivers’ licenses and abide by transportation laws to operate legally. While the government and Uber Taiwan agreed that relevant laws must be upgraded to counter the new sharing economies, the former adhered to laws governing transportation businesses, with the latter insisting on laws regarding information platforms. Taxis Fight Back Taxi associations from across the country jointly initiated a “reporting task force” on Monday, calling on taxi drivers as well as citizens to join the mission in “combatting the unlawful business.” In a rather provocative statement, the taxi associations uploaded a detailed guideline on its Facebook page on Monday, teaching citizens how to report on Uber to get award money. Cheng Li-chia (鄭力嘉), president of the Taipei City Professional Drivers’ Union said that no taxi companies have been contacted by Uber, contrasting to what the ride-sharing company claimed last Friday, that it has sought partnership with the taxi industry to bring better transportation services to Taiwan. “Uber hasn’t even registered for the Transportation Ministry’s latest Diverse Taxi Service Project,” Cheng said, asserting how this showed Uber has no actual interest in collaborating for a mutually accepted solution.