By Shelley Shan / Staff reporter
Hundreds of taxis yesterday morning drove slowly around the Executive Yuan to protest the Ministry of Transportation and Communications’ （MOTC） decision to extend a grace period for Uber Technologies Inc drivers before an amendment to the transportation regulations takes effect next month.
Although changes to Article 103-1 of the Transportation Management Regulations （汽車運輸業管理規則） were promulgated on June 6, the ministry has given Uber drivers until Oct. 6 to become licensed taxi drivers.
Of 12,000 Uber drivers, only about 2,000 of them have secured taxi driver’s licenses.
The amendment clearly said when it was to take effect, Taxi Dispatch Service Industry Development Association secretary-general Tsung Hung-i （曾弘義） said, adding that the ministry should comply with the law.
The ministry should not disregard the law, breaking its promise, just to accommodate the needs of one company, Tseng said.
The government risks losing the public’s trust if it does so, Tseng said.
“They [Uber drivers] have been given four months to register for the license exams, but they didn’t want to. Instead, they waited until the last month to say that they don’t have enough time to finish all the exams. If the ministry is using this reason to give illegal taxi operators more time, doesn’t that mean that the drivers could use the same justification to extend their illegal operations? The ministry should hold the exams more frequently instead of postponing when the amendment takes effect,” Tseng said.
The Ministry of the Interior has increased the frequency of the exams by adding 25 additional test dates, 17 of which are to held before the end of this month, Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai （王國材） said, adding that, together, the test dates could accommodate 10,000 examinees.
The Uber drivers need time to secure commercial vehicle licenses and handle car loan issues, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung （林佳龍） said.
“If the policy is heading in the right direction, we should allow a bit more time so that all Uber drivers can take the license exam,” he said, adding that the ministry has also agreed to increase the number of examinees accepted for each test date.
The MOTC is complying with the law, even if it extends the grace period for Uber drivers, as the measure was implemented to establish orderly competition in the market, Lin said.
“The goal of competition is to provide passengers the best possible service. It has taken the country a long time to find ways to regulate Uber and its drivers, and to raise the quality of taxi services. Uber drivers and taxi drivers should allow each other some time so that they can both survive,” Lin added.
A police officer tries to direct traffic yesterday as hundreds of taxi drivers drive slowly around the Executive Yuan to protest the extension of a grace period for Uber drivers to take the taxi driver’s exam. Photo: CNA