Defending its drivers, Uber accuses RTD of shielding KL’s failed cabbies

Regional General Manager of Uber Technologies in Southeast Asia Michael Brown poses in front of the newly launched UberX range, on August 6, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Regional General Manager of Uber Technologies in Southeast Asia Michael Brown poses in front of the newly launched UberX range, on August 6, 2014. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 ― Popular private car booking service Uber has hit out at the Road Transport Department (RTD) for failing the public transportation industry by protecting the capital city’s unreliable taxi drivers in weeding out unregistered drivers offering cab-like services.

In the spotlight ahead of RTD’s planned crackdown on pirate taxis, Uber said the authority’s action was not helping resolve the city’s public transport woes but was instead deepening the rut.

“This is clearly an attempt to protect the taxi industry that has failed its customers in Kuala Lumpur.

“Preventing our driver partners from earning a living and getting people safely and reliably around town doesn't just hurt the residents and visitors, it hurts the city.

“Uber is providing safer, cheaper and more reliable transportation options for riders and we're creating more opportunities for drivers,” Uber’s regional general manager Mike Brown told Malay Mail Online via e-mail yesterday in response to RTD’s clampdown threat.

Brown reiterated that safety is the company’s “top priority” and assured that passengers are riding with “a safe and highly qualified driver with insurance coverage”.

“Uber has and always will stand by our driver partners 100 per cent,” he said.

The RTD is expected to crack down on private vehicles that offer taxi-like services, but not the taxis and limousines using popular transportation booking service Uber, according to a report yesterday by The Star Online.

RTD director-general Datuk Seri Ismail Ahmad reportedly said individuals or companies providing the “teksi sapu” (illegal taxi) services risked being fined between RM1,000 and RM10,000, or one year’s imprisonment.

“The public should aware that by using private vehicles as taxi, they are not covered by any insurance should they get involved in any accident,” Ismail was also quoted as saying.

He reportedly added that using private vehicles to ferry fare-paying passengers was an offence under Section 16 of the Land Public Transportation Act 2010.

The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) told Uber last month to stop using private and “Hire & Drive” vehicles.

SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar had urged Uber to use only properly-licensed vehicles and drivers.