Uber cannot operate in Taiwan as transportation broker: minister

Taipei--Transportation Minister Ho Chen Tan (???) said Thursday that ride-hailing service Uber will not be permitted to operate as a broker of transportation services in Taiwan since that is an illegal business.

The minster made the comments at a legislative session shortly after Uber formally announced that it was returning to the Taiwanese market with a revised business model that it said would meet local regulations this time.

Earlier in the week, Uber sent text messages to ride-hailing drivers, saying it would start operations soon, partnering with licensed car rental companies to provide ride-hailing services.

In the messages, interested drivers were invited to contact Uber via Line and submit their commercial driver's licenses, identity cards and police records.

However, Ho Chen said it would be illegal for Uber to operte as a transportation broker in Taiwan.

Furthermore, Uber will not be permitted to return to Taiwan unless it pays its NT$830 million (US$27.40 million) in outstanding fines, he said.

Car rental companies should have their own vehicles and drivers, the minister said, adding that drivers are prohibited from transferring ownership of their vehicles to car rental companies so that they can work for such enterprises.

Uber halted its services in Taiwan two months ago after it was penalized under a new law barring unlicensed taxi services.

The Transportation ministry also imposed hefty fines on Uber for illegally recruiting private drivers.

The government is seeking a court order to recover NT$200 million of the NT$830 million in outstanding fines and is also trying to obtain the balance, according to a transportation ministry official.

Uber was required to change its business registration from a technology company to a taxi company so that it could operate legally as a transportation broker in Taiwan.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel