Uber Malaysia has announced the creation of UberTaxi, a pilot programme that will see taxi drivers join the service using their own vehicles. The ridesharing service is collaborating with GABUNGAN to implement the scheme, and is deploying some 500 drivers in the first phase.
Taxi drivers joining UberTaxi will still have to meet Uber’s driver and vehicle requirements; meaning that the taxis themselves cannot be more than five years old. The drivers will similarly be subjected to the same background check as Uber’s regular ridesharing drivers.
Fares will be based on UberX structure, including dynamic fares for periods of high demand. However, UberTaxi drivers will be allowed to stop for passengers as normal cabs as well.
GABUNGAN claims to represent 90 percent of all corporate taxi permit holders in Malaysia. Accounting for over 28,000 taxis on the road. It’s unknown how many of these vehicles will be able to meet Uber’s somewhat stricter requirements; or if the taxi companies will have to spring for new cars.
Warren Tseng, General Manager for Uber in Malaysia and Singapore said, “Uber believes this partnership will provide a tangible demonstration of how giving more people the power of choice at the touch of a button makes things better for all – driver-partners, riders, and the city. We support the Government’s intention to improve the overall public transportation landscape and will do our part to ensure a quality experience for all riders and driver-partners. Since launching three years ago, Uber has continually worked to empower give Malaysian riders, driver-partners and cities the power of choice at the touch of a button.”
Uber isn’t technically the first ridesharing company to partner with cab drivers. Rivals Grab began operations as MyTeksi back in 2012; and currently still includes many taxi drivers within its service.
Still, it’s rather unusual to see the partnership between Uber and taxi driver associations. Especially considering that cabbies have spent the better part of two years protesting against ridesharing services. At this point, it looks like a case of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”