The General Manager of car-hailing application Uber Macau, Trasy Lou Walsh, said in letter sent to local media that the company hoped the service would return to the city in the “near future”.
According to Ms. Lou, since the company halted its services in Macau on July 21, the “demand for ride sharing remains undimmed . . . [with] . . . tens of thousands of users from 74 countries” attempting to use the service.
The Uber Macau GM added that the statistics underscored the “importance of [Uber’s] continuous efforts to return to the city”, considering that the service provided “economic opportunities for residents” and contributed to the city developing into a “tech-savvy smart city”.
She added that she was reminded by the recent agreement between the MSAR Government and Alibaba to develop Macau into a ‘Smart City’ enhancing tourism and transportation of the traffic issues the city had to address.
“There remains room for improvement when it comes to transportation in one of the most densely populated cities in the world (…) The smart city programme brings with it hopes of solving the long awaited problems that residents and visitors experience in Macau when they try to get around. On average, passengers currently need to wait eight minutes for a taxi. That compares to under four minutes for a ride when Uber technology was available in Macau,” she added.
The ride-sharing service encountered several obstacles by local regulators since its arrival in Macau in December 2015, with authorities declaring it an illegal ride sharing service.
According to previous information provided by the company, Uber drivers in Macau have been collectively fined around MOP$10 million (US$1.2 million), with the company repaying the drivers’ fines.
The company suspended its services in August of last year, returning one month later after an online petition signed by 23,000 individuals demanded the MSAR Government consider the legalisation of the service.
After the ‘Smart City’ agreement signing ceremony, Alibaba Cloud President Hu Xiaoming was asked about the possibility of bringing the Chinese ride-sharing app Didi Chuxing – owned by the Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings Limited – to Macau, with the representative admitting it was a “possibility” but with nothing certain for now.
Following Uber’s last suspension of service in Macau, the company stated it was “already exploring ways to serve the city again” having already held “initial discussions with business partners, including transport operators and hotels”.
This method allowed the company to reinstate service in Taiwan in February of this year, after its service was suspended for two months following the country’s decision to increase the maximum financial penalty for illegal passenger transportation services to NT$25 million (US$824,500).
The company was allowed to re-enter the Taiwanese market after partnering with local licensed rental car companies and tax services.