KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — Residents of KL, as well those who have used Uber, are now up in arms after false reports surfaced saying that the popular smartphone car-hailing app was declared illegal.
A front-page report in an English language daily today said that the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has banned Uber highlighting the fact that it was illegal to use private as well as Hire and Drive cars.
SPAD chief Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar however said it was “open to allowing this service, as long as the services are provided by appropriately licensed vehicles and drivers.”
“Under the current regulatory scheme, among the vehicles used by UBER, only licensed limousines are eligible to offer chauffeur-driven services and since there are 839 licensed limousines nationwide which are eligible to offer this service, the supply of vehicles and drivers should therefore not be an issue for UBER,” he said in a statement yesterday.
The same statement was used as the basis of the front-page report which erroneously reported that it has been declared illegal.
Uber users took to social media to slam the regulatory body for purportedly banning the service and seemed to favour taxis which they claimed are not up to par.
“I am saddened to hear that Uber is banned in Malaysia. I get stressed taking taxis because of high prices and scared for my safety too,” Sara de Souza @saradesouza wrote on her Twitter account.
Soefira @soefira and Michael Yip @zique shared the sentiments of many others on taxi services which they said need to “buck up”, if they want to thrive.
“Totally pissed at SPAD’s knee-jerk reaction to Uber. If you say that their cars are not inspected by PUSPAKOM, can you also please send every taxi for inspection?
“The last taxi I took was from LCCT to Ampang at midnight and number one, driver nearly fell asleep. Number two, his fricking alignment was damn off (I’m OCD like that) cause the car kept swerving to left and almost hit a biker, twice!”, Jeff Sandhu posted on his Facebook account.
He added that he had not been in a regular taxi since the incident and would gladly pay more for Uber.
Local singer Dasha Logan also showed her support for Uber on her Facebook page.
“I don’t know how many times I’ve been left alone because a taxi I had booked couldn’t wait 5 minutes for me to come down from my apartment.
“Uber waits, uber drivers put on their seat belts and uber doesn’t try to rip me off. #uber also makes me look damn good,” she wrote.
JJ Red fm @JJ_on_air wrote, “Well @Uber_KL provided me security, reliability, comfort & fairness. And that’s wrong?”
Denesh Dmaniac said he depends on Uber after being out drinking.
“Please don’t shut Uber down... I always UBER to clubs and now if its shut down i’m forced to drive home when i’m drunk simply because i don’t have the confidence in our local taxi companies.
“I preferred UBER it’s because it’s comfortable and the main reason would be SAFETY,” he posted on his Facebook page.
He also said he feels safer that his girlfriend uses Uber to meetings compared to taking taxis as he would be able to track the car and make sure she arrived at her destination safely.
Also on Facebook, Chee Ching said she prefers Uber because it offers pick-up at “inconvenient places”.
“NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I always prefer Uber over taxis anytime. Nobody fetches me at inconvenient places but Uber does. Only in Malaysia, official bodies declare competitors illegal when they cannot catch up”.
Looi Zuan Heng who had initially said he didn’t need Uber’s services as he has a car, recently tried it and said he liked it a lot as the service provided was professional, the car was clean, the driver well-mannered and did not overcharge, and he felt safe.
Meanwhile, the Association for the Improvement of Mass Transit, Transit Malaysia also showed their support and posted on their Facebook page saying Uber is providing services that some taxi drivers failed to provide.
“Taxi drivers need to understand that @uber is not taking their passengers... it is giving those passengers a level of service & choice that some taxi drivers do not to provide.
“Some drivers have been able to get away with this for years because of poor planning, lax regulation & enforcement. That’s why#uber (and @myteksi & @myEasyTaxi) are shaking things up so easily... because this is what the market wants”.
Whatever Uber chooses to do next, it is definitely basking in the attention it got over the “banned” report today and enjoying the overwhelming support it got from its fans.
Uber was launched in the Klang Valley late last year with its UberBlack product which offers cars such as Toyota Camry, Toyota Alphard, Mercedes E class, starts at RM3, the same as budget taxis.
But for every kilometre, Uber charges RM1.15 while taxis, RM0.87. And for every minute, Uber charges an additional RM0.35 while for taxis, it is RM0.10 for every 21 seconds.
At certain times, mostly on weekend nights when the demand is high, there is also the UberLux range of cars with a higher base fare of RM10 and a minimum fare of RM30.
Two weeks ago, Uber launched its lower range product under UberX in the Klang Valley, which is 15 per cent lower than the budget taxi fares.
Uber also started offering its services in Johor Baru two days ago and according to some of the drivers here, there are plans to expand to Penang as well.