Saturday, 30 August 2014

Uber answers critics

Uber, the company offering transport through a smartphone application, has come under the spotlight in recent days after Gabungan called on SPAD to act against the company, citing security and licensing issues. 

Following the backlash over its transport application, Uber said today it welcomed a chance to discuss with government officials about transport issues plaguing the Klang Valley.

It said that it would also discuss with non-governmental organisations about how the innovation could transform public transport in Kuala Lumpur.

"Having meaningful conversations based on facts is important to us," it said, adding that it appreciated the acknowledgement from the Land Public Transportation Commission (SPAD) that many users were satisfied and happy with services provided by Uber.

Gabungan deputy president Datuk Mohd Alias Abdul said other than SPAD, the police, Road Transport Department and the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission should also work together to address the issue, which had affected the income of taxi drivers in the Klang Valley.

"The company does not have any business licence or office in Malaysia but has been operating in dozens of cities around the world through the Internet and smartphone application.

"‎What's worrying is that Uber does not have a taxi permit issued by SPAD and it is also believed that its drivers do not have the public service vehicle (PSV) licence," he was quoted as saying.

Saying that this was just a tactic to "try and scare Malaysians away", Uber said that these "champions of the status quo" wanted to limit the transport options for city dwellers.

"They are preventing KL from moving forward.

"Riders in 180 cities around the world are flocking to Uber because of the safety, convenience and reliability it brings to for-hire transportation. We want to keep KL moving in the safest, most efficient way possible and we will continue to put consumer choice and safety and driver opportunity first," it said.

Clarifying the concerns raised by Gabungan, Uber said all its drivers and their vehicles undergo "rigorous and thorough" background check and inspection.

Customers would be able to see their driver's name, licence plate number, photo and rating when a booking was confirmed, the company said, adding that they would also be able to share the real-time movement of their ride with others.

"Uber riders can rate their experience after every ride. Driver partners who do not provide a good rider experience will be removed.

"We bring competition to an industry that hasn’t evolved in years. This competition benefits riders and drivers, and raises the safety, quality and service levels offered by the industry."

SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar told The Malaysian Insider recently that the commission has received complaints and memorandums from taxi drivers in the Klang Valley who claimed Uber had affected their income.

He, however, said that the issue had to be looked into very carefully, especially since Uber’s service was popular in Malaysia because of its excellent service.

"We are still gathering facts about this and studying the matter to see what kind of laws had been breached and what action to take.”

SPAD also said there have been several issues carried by Uber, which was introduced in Kuala Lumpur nine months ago, such as using private vehicles to carry fare-paying passengers, which is an offence under the Land Public Transport Act 2010.

Some of the company's drivers did not have a public service vehicle driving licence, which is an offence under the Road Transport Act 1987.

"In an effort to reach out and ensure that Uber complies with Malaysian laws, SPAD has attempted to contact Uber by telephone and by email but to date, Uber has not responded nor replied to any of SPAD's outreach attempts," the commission said.

The commission said vehicles currently used by Uber were not covered by commercial insurance and might not go through Puspakom's semi-annual inspection. 

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