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Cabbies protest against new ridesharing app
Central News Agency
2014-07-07 08:52 PM
Taipei, July 7 (CNA) Hundreds of licensed taxi cab drivers surrounded the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in Taipei Monday to protest over unregulated smartphone-driven rideshare services that they fear could cut into their business. Motorcades of taxi drivers departed from Sanchong and Luzhou in New Taipei at around 2 p.m. before circling the ministry compound, with the slow-traffic lane of a section of Renai Road between Zhongshan South Road and Hsinsheng South Road remaining clogged with heavy traffic at around 5 p.m., according to the two taxi drivers' unions that organized the protest. According to the unions, some 1,200 taxis converged around the ministry compound. Several of the protesters set fire to their business licenses and about 200 police officers were deployed to maintain order. Lin Sheng-ho, one of the protest leaders, said the government should protect the rights of licensed taxi drivers by cracking down on unregulated firms using mobile apps that allow consumers to book rides online with limousine companies and private drivers. In addition, the two unions demanded at a press conference that the government should allow a hike in taxi fares in Taipei, New Taipei and Keelung due to rising fuel costs, permit taxi drivers to be subordinated to more than one dispatch center, and raise the maximum age limit for taxi drivers. The protest was staged mainly against an app launched by Uber Inc., a transportation network company based in San Francisco that makes mobile apps that can connect passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire and ridesharing services. According to the protesters, Uber has committed licensing offenses, including operation of an unlicensed taxi brokerage and unlicensed limo service. By using a driver's mobile phone to track journeys and charge fares on distance and time traveled, Uber is offering metered rides, the protesters said, which under current regulations only licensed yellow cabs are allowed to do. In response to cab drivers' accusations, however, the MOTC said that Uber is not technically breaking the law since it is described as a leasing business rather than a taxi service provider, according to the reports. (By Angela Tsai and Evelyn Kao)
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