Uber says it looks forward to serving Taiwan again

Taipei--U.S.-based ride-hailing company Uber, which suspended its services in Taiwan starting on Friday, said it hopes to resume dialogue with Taiwan's government and looks forward to serving people in this country again.

"As much as want to continue, the current regulatory environment makes it impossible to serve the island the way we know works best," Uber said in a statement.

"By hitting pause, we hope to reset our conversation with the government and find a way to allow ridesharing to flourish. We will do everything we can to restart the service," it added.

The government has determined that Uber cannot legally operate transportation services in Taiwan because it is registered in Taiwan as an information services company.

Uber argued, however, that it was not a taxi company and refused to comply with the government's demand for it to register as a taxi service provider.

As of late December 2016, Uber had accumulated fines of NT$68.45 million for 481 violations, while its drivers had been fined a total of NT$20.83 million.

Since the maximum fine for the operation of illegal passenger transportation services was raised to NT$25 million on Jan. 6, Uber has been found guilty of an additional 48 violations, which have resulted in an estimated NT$1.1 billion (US$35.38 million) in fines.

Uber announced last week that it would suspend its services in Taiwan starting Feb. 10.

In a Facebook post, Uber admitted that the "exorbitant, accumulating fines" made it very difficult for the company to operate in Taiwan.

Uber said it hoped Taiwan's government will first accept the concept of a ride-sharing platform before both sides can discuss what kind of regulations are needed to govern the services provided by the company.

Also Friday, more than 10 Uber partner drivers staged a sit-in in front of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications to show their support for Uber.

In response, the ministry said it will meet with representatives of various sectors, including Uber drivers, within seven days to discuss Uber-related issues.

According to Uber, more than 1 million people in Taiwan downloaded the Uber ride-sharing app since the company entered the local market four years ago, and 16,000 citizens have chosen to partner with Uber to make extra money, with 15 million trips taken on the platform.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel