Uber have announced that it will resume its ride-hailing services in Taiwan following a series of successful talks with island authorities. The US firm suspended its services in the region after being hit with a series of fines and penalties after government figures claimed that Uber was misrepresenting itself by claiming to be a technology platform and not a transportation company. However, after a number of ‘constructive talks' Uber have ended its two-month suspension on services in Taiwan.
In February, Uber took the decision to halt its services after higher penalties of as much as T$25 million ($825,873) per infraction took effect from the island's Ministry of Transportation and Communications. However, General Manager of Uber, Likai Gu, said the organization was now committed to reintroducing its services to Taiwan - and indicated its desire to partner with more transportation services in the future.
He said: "After constructive talks with transportation authorities, we are now partnering with licensed rental car companies to resume serving riders in Taipei. Starting today, people in Taipei can book an Uber ride, and we expect to bring Uber back to other cities in the near future. We want to partner with more transportation service partners in weeks and months to come, whether they're from rental car companies or the taxi industry."
This isn't the first time Uber has come under scrutiny in relation to how it defines itself and what service it provides. The global ride-hailing giant which is headquartered in San Francisco has faced legal challenges in other markets across Asia, including Macau and Japan. The crux of the problem for Uber in Taiwan was it said it operated as an internet-based technology platform rather than as a transportation company, which local taxi companies and Taiwanese authorities have said is a misrepresentation of its service.
Earlier this year, Taiwanese authorities raised fines against unlicensed ride-sharing services which targeted Uber. Uber's response at the time was to declare that the fines issued to them were the highest in the world. It has not been officially disclosed if the restart of Uber's operations in Taiwan meant all the issues with authorities had been resolved.
Taiwan maintained that Uber's business was illegal and was weighing up the option of ordering it to leave the domestic market with immediate effect. The long-running dispute has now been resolved for the time being, but Uber will continue to face the same legal challenges in other nations as it continues to expand, by not declaring itself as a transportation company. However, Uber did have support in the region as proponents, many of them individual drivers with cars in Taiwan, staged counter protests to support the business opportunities they said the Uber platform provided.