The ride-sharing app service Uber Technologies Inc. has made it to Hong Kong, where it has drawn both praise and controversy. A number of Uber drivers have been arrested, but service demand continues to grow.
Macau has yet to experience the services of the San Francisco-based private car-hire app. Signs that Uber could open here have come down to two recruitment ads on Uber’s website, one for a General Manager and another for a Marketing Manager.
The Times knows of at least two people who have revealed that they are working for Uber employees attempting to do market research in the city, where the taxi service still doesn’t meet the minimum expected standards.
The Times sought comment from Uber Technologies Inc.’s main offices, and contacted its Asian Marketing division to learn whether the app would be launched in Macau, but received no reply by press time.
The Transport Bureau (DSAT) told the Times that it has never been approached by Uber Technologies Inc. The Macau Government Tourist Office (MGTO) also said that it did not have “any record of a travel agency or self-driven rent-a-car business application from Uber Technologies Inc.”
In a phone interview, the president of the Macau Taxi Passengers Association (MTPA), Andrew Scott, talked to The Times about Uber’s usefulness here and whether the app could eventually become a reality in Macau.
“Uber is just a technology company, it’s not a transportation company. So they can provide the technological platform, but you still need drivers, and where are they going to get those drivers from?” he asked.
According to Mr Scott, who has used Uber in Sydney and Hong Kong, the app’s general concept “is great” and the ride-sharing service could one day be implemented in Macau, whether by Uber or another company.
“The general concept is great, but there have been a lot of problems around the world – terrible comments in the U.S. [about Uber]. That kind of toxic culture is not something you want in Macau, because taxis are toxic enough already,” he warned.
Mr Scott does not foresee an easy ride for any private car-hire company in Macau. “The corporate culture of Uber and the corporate culture of the Macau government are not very compatible,” he acknowledged, adding that Macau already lacks local drivers.
“To be a driver of a vehicle charging for transportation, you must be a local Macau resident, but where are the local drivers? Where are they going to get the drivers from? Taxi companies can’t find drivers; they’re short of drivers.”
The Macau Taxi Passengers Association was established last year by Mr Scott and other members of the Facebook group Macau Taxi Driver Shame, which has gone viral.
The Facebook group was intended to help them discuss and fix Macau’s taxi problems, including overcharging and fishing, among other issues.
“Taxi services got a lot better this year, but we have all noticed that in the last month it’s gotten worse again. I think it happened because the police have finally started to relax their enforcement. I think the enforcement was extremely strong in January, February, March, April and May. It started to slack off in June,” he observed.
Uber Technologies Inc. develops and operates the Uber mobile app, through which smartphone users can submit a trip request, which is then redirected to Uber drivers who use their own cars.
The company has had a busy summer, as pointed out in a recent report by British newspaper The Guardian.
The app-based transportation service is the world’s richest startup, and it is now testing on-demand mass transit with its Smart Routes offering. The uberPOOL now matches riders heading in the same direction, allowing them to save time and money.
It is no secret that the company is expanding into China. However, controversies have mushroomed across all regions where Uber operates, as stories of clients harassed or assaulted by drivers have emerged. The company also faces ongoing protests and lawsuits filed by taxi drivers, who have been reluctant to welcome the Uber app and claim that it presents unfair competition.
tourist duped by taxi driver in hong kong
A Swiss tourist in Hong Kong was illegally charged HKD8,000 for his journey from the HK International Airport to his hotel in Kowloon. A typical fare for this distance would amount to between HKD250 or HKD300. The South China Morning Post reported that the 22-year-old tourist has decided not to pursue the case. However, the police traffic unit is following it up amid concerns that this type of misconduct may affect the city’s reputation as a tourist destination. There were 351 complaints concerning taxi drivers overcharging in the first quarter of 2015, down from 396 in the previous quarter.