Rental car group criticizes MOTC’s new rate proposal

TAIPEI (CNA) – An association of car rental companies in Taiwan on Friday criticized a government proposal that would require rental car companies working with ride-hailing service Uber to adopt hourly or day-based fare rates.

Wang Shi-Chang (王世璋), chairman of the Taipei Passenger Car Rental Association, said Friday that the association is planning to mobilize 170,000 rental cars to take to the streets in protest if the proposal is not withdrawn.

Wang said rental car drivers in Taiwan cooperated with Uber based on Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) regulations last year, and a sudden change in the rules would hurt Taiwan’s rental car market, potentially affecting 100,000 families.

He charged that the MOTC’s proposal favors taxi drivers and ignores the fact that Uber has 3 million users across the island.

Under last year’s agreement, the MOTC required rental car companies working with Uber to charge fares by the half hour to differentiate the service from taxis.

But the ministry said in presenting its proposal to revise the Regulations for Automobile Transportation Operators that the collaboration had turned into just another taxi service involving some 6,000 rental cars and had led to complaints from taxi drivers.

The new proposal would create a fairer competitive environment and prevent car rental operators from carving into the market of local taxi drivers, the MOTC said.

Under the revision, rental car drivers working with Uber would be prohibited from driving around looking for passengers or scheduling shifts to accommodate customers calling for a ride. It also would require fares to be charged by the hour or the day.

The MOTC said the public will have two months to offer opinions on the proposed revision before it is drafted.

Local taxi unions welcomed the new policy, saying it would go further to protect their rights, and Cheng Li-chia (鄭力嘉), president of the Taipei Professional Drivers’ Union, said his group will call off a protest on the issue that had been scheduled for Feb. 27.

Uber’s original ride-hailing service was suspended in Taiwan primarily because Uber refused to register itself and be regulated as a transportation company, which led taxi companies to protest they were being put at a competitive disadvantage.

The compromise on having Uber work with rental car companies was a way to keep Uber in the market.

By Wang Shu-feng and Chi Jo-yao