Taipei, April 21 (CNA) Hundreds of Uber drivers rallied in front of the Presidential Office on Sunday to protest planned regulations that would require Uber-supported transportation services to adopt hourly or day-based fare rates and bar them from driving around looking for passengers.
Some 200 Uber vehicles parked on Ketagalan Boulevard to protest the Ministry of Transportation and Communications' (MOTC's) planned revision to the "Regulations for Automobile Transportation Operators."
The amendment would add Article 103-1 to the regulations that would prohibit drivers of vehicles from rental car companies to drive around seeking passengers or schedule shifts to accommodate customers calling for a ride.
It would also require fares to be charged by the hour or the day.
After Taiwan barred Uber's standard ride-hailing service because Uber refused to abide by regulations applicable to transportation companies, such as taxis, a new system was devised allowing drivers to use cars from rental car companies and get riders through Uber's service.
But the MOTC found that the service was essentially a taxi service working with Uber in everything but name only and ruled that it was in violation of the law.
The MOTC published the proposed amendment in February and scheduled it to take effect starting on April 26, sparking the protest of Uber drivers.
In addition to the Sunday protest, services via the Uber application were suspended for six hours during the day.
Uber Taiwan General Manager Willy Wu (吳罡) said his company's current cooperation with rental car companies is a legal and reasonable operating model that emerged two years ago during talks between Uber and the MOTC.
Now the ministry has suddenly changed the rules, turning "both the industry and drivers into victims," Wu argued, hoping that the government will withdraw its proposal and invite all related parties to look for better resolutions.
Wu said last month that if the planned new rule designed to protect Taiwan's taxi industry was introduced, it would negatively affect the business model of rental car companies, threaten the livelihoods of 10,000 Uber drivers and their families, and restrict choice for 3 million regular Uber users across Taiwan.
On Sunday, Deputy Transportation Minister Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) reiterated that the MOTC has already proposed legal ways that would provide a viable transition for Uber and Uber drivers.