Uber going greenWednesday, July 28, 2021
BY AVIA COLLINDER
UBER has set itself the big objective of going 100 per cent green with a fully electric, zero-emission platform by 2040, with 100 per cent of rides taking place in zero-emission vehicles. Uber operates in 63 countries around the world.
CEO Dara Khosrowshahi states on the company's website, “It is our responsibility as the largest mobility platform in the world to more aggressively tackle the challenge of climate change. We will do this by offering riders more ways to ride green, helping drivers go electric, making transparency a priority, and partnering with NGOs and the private sector to help expedite a clean and just energy transition.”
In some of its smaller markets, going green is only one of the company's concerns.
While in Jamaica the Ministry of Transport has made the company welcome, taxi operators are waiting to get a response to competition issues they have raised.
What are the challenges faced by ride-share services in a smaller market? We choose for comparison Taiwan, a medium-size market where taxi companies and the Ministry of Transport have forced changes in the company's business model.
In Taiwan the company has raised the standard of operation for private transport, making cashless payments mainstream and improving passenger safety with its app – but by 2019 it was forced by the Taiwanese Government to join a programme for taxis.
Uber has became a member of Taiwan's multipurpose taxi programme (MPT). The agreement followed a period of conflict which ended with compromise.
The ride-share company entered Taiwan in 2013. Between then and 2019 the company paid millions in government fines, which ended in 2017 when Uber agreed, under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC), to work through local rental car firms.
This did not work out however. In response to protest from the taxi industry, MOTC added the “Uber clause” to transportation regulations in 2019.
This new clause, added to the law, defined vehicle rental services and taxis as businesses subject to different regulations.
Vehicle rental services, it asserted, could only charge by the hour or day. Consequently, Uber had no choice but to continue through operators of taxis, if it wanted to continue in Taiwan.
Analysts say the compromise was accepted because Uber, at the time, was pursuing its IPO and did not want the negative publicity impact of exiting a market.
The company now operates in Taiwan through operators who have a taxi licence. This, however, has limited growth as such permits and licence plates are limited.
Lower fares have also been affected. Under the newer MPT programme, the cost of travelling somewhere in an Uber vehicle is close to, if not the same as the cost for using other taxis.
Altogether, in less than seven years Uber, from a presence in North America alone, is now in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa, and Australia.
It also added new options for travel in Thailand and India, where it offers a rickshaw and motorbike service.
But in the smaller and medium-size markets where taxi associations have political clout, the company may have to tread with some care.
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