Kaohsiung taxis debut Uber-like legal service

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A taxi operator in Kaohsiung Thursday launched a service similar to Uber with 10 taxis offering the service initially, expecting the number of taxis to join the system to reach 300 next year, according to a city government official.

Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Hsu Li-ming said the service provided by Crown Taxi, unlike Uber, is legal. Crown Taxi is a Taiwanese taxi dispatch company.

Passengers need only download a designated app in their smartphones to schedule a ride. The app will show vehicles, identities of their drivers and estimated fares for the ride. After riding the car, passengers can rate the service on the app.

Kaohsiung Transportation Bureau director general Chen Ching-fu said Kaohsiung has been helping the local taxi industry boost competitiveness against the illegal service of Uber. He said the city is the first in Taiwan to come up with such diversified taxi service, adding that initially four taxi operators have been selected to provide such service before the year ends.

In addition, not one of the 10 participating taxis displayed Thursday is yellow. Instead, the regular cars are red, while the seven-seat RVs are blue and the wheelchair accessible RVs are white.

The taxis providing the service have meters to calculate the fare, and the initial fee is NT$85, the same as regular taxis in the city, but during rush hours, national holidays or typhoon closures, the diversified taxis will charge 1.2 to 2 times of the regular fee, and the charges for RVs are higher than regular cars.

Hsu said he hoped the new diversified taxi service will provide better services to passengers and bring more income to the drivers.