Uber Macau suspends ride-sharing services

Trasy Lou Walsh (center) poses with Uber drivers during an event organized in March

Uber Macau is suspending its services from this Friday, after nearly two years of operating in the MSAR, a region with no regulations in relation to ride-sharing services. This is the second time Uber has decided to stop its operations in the MSAR.

Yesterday, the ride-sharing giant broke the news, stating that the firm, which has been facing regulatory pressure from many overseas markets, will temporarily suspend its ride- sharing operation in Macau.
“Therefore, after our careful consideration, we decided to temporarily suspend our ride-sharing operations in Macau at 23:59 Friday July 21,” the company disclosed.

Uber noted that the company has “fought hard every day to legitimize our Macau operations.”

“The decision to press pause wasn’t easy, and was made with the best interests of Macau in mind. We are not able to secure a business environment in which we can continue to unlock the full benefits of ride-sharing,” a statement released by the company noted. “We hope the decision will bring positive changes,” the statement added.

The company also recalled how ridesharing could benefit Macau, noting, “unfortunately, we have still room for improvement on this issue.”

However, Uber Macau pledged to “strive even harder for a return,” adding that it is open to working with all parties who would be able to make their return possible: “Our commitment to Macau has not changed, and we still chase our dream from day one in Macau. Therefore, we hope to return.”

The US-based company also expressed their hope that a constructive dialogue with all stakeholders in Macau can be facilitated, and noted that it is already exploring ways to serve the region again.

Last year in July, Uber Macau hand-delivered copies of approximately 3,000 e-mails to the Office of the Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Raimundo do Rosário, appealing to him to regulate the ride-sharing sector.

However, earlier this year when Uber Macau called for a press conference, Uber Macau general manager Trasy Lou Walsh acknowledged that no concrete dialogues had been established between the controversial ride-hailing app and the government.

In August 2016, Uber Macau announced that it would stop operating in the region on September 9, 2016, due to its costly regulatory battle, which had amounted to a staggering sum of over MOP10 million. Following this announcement, several groups wrote to the government asking it to help Uber remain in the territory.

On September 9, the date the company planned to halt operations, Uber Macau announced that it would continue to operate in the territory due an “unprecedented amount of support” from MSAR residents.

The Times contacted Uber’s Hong Kong-based PR agency yesterday, but it declined to elaborate beyond the statement, adding that no press conference at the moment is being planned.

Uber drivers in Hong Kong are still facing a legal battle, while Uber resumed operations in Taiwan in April, after two months of suspension.

Some netizens on social media have been expressing their rage at the company’s announcement and some have criticized the region’s taxi fares increase, also announced yesterday [see below].

DSAT welcomes operators ‘abiding by the law’

Questioned yesterday during a press conference, the Transport Bureau (DSAT) director Lam Hin San revealed that he was aware Uber is suspending its service this week.  “We’d like to once again reiterate that any car-sharing services, especially taxi-hailing services on mobile applications must be regulated in Macau. We welcome any operations abiding by the law and we will act accordingly to those not in line with the law,” he said, cited by TDM.

Initial taxi fare to increase to MOP19

The Transport Bureau (DSAT) has concluded their analysis of the requests for new taxi fares, and decided to increase the starting taxi fare from MOP17 to MOP19, according to a statement released yesterday by DSAT.

The current taxi fare increases two patacas every 260 meters after the first 1,600 meters which are covered by the starting fare.

After the change, the fare will increase two patacas every 240 meters. However, charges during the waiting period remain the same.

DSAT has also allowed taxi drivers to charge an extra five patacas to passengers arriving at or departing from the Taipa Marine Ferry Terminal or the University of Macau. Fares relating to other locations remain the same.

According to DSAT, the relevant proposal has already been approved by the Chief Executive. The new policy will come into effect on Sunday.

Earlier this week, taxi groups handed appeals to DSAT requesting the increase of taxi fares.

During a press conference organized yesterday, DSAT director Lam Hin San said that an increase in penalties for taxi drivers who overcharge or refuse to pick up passengers. “The penalty for any taxi malpractice stands at 1000 patacas now, and I agree that this is not enough, so that  [at the] next stage we will work to boost taxi service and combat any taxi malpractice by enhancing the taxi regulations”, he said, cited by TDM.

In the statement released by DSAT, the bureau said that it had reviewed the city’s statistics and noted that the last time the city adjusted taxi fares was in December of 2014. At the time, Macau’s inflation was surging. At the same time as this increase, the average salary of truck drivers increased 7.3 percent, which suggested that the operation costs for taxi drivers had increased as well.

The analysis referenced the median income of Macau residents in the fourth quarter of 2016, and judged that the increase in taxi fares balanced against the capacity of city residents and the taxi industry’s operation costs.

DSAT will attach the new taxi fare information at the Motor Vehicle Inspection Center at Cotai.


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