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The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) is approaching the Uber issue carefully, and is wary about taking action against the transport service provider, as it has proven to be popular amongst Malaysians, according to reports.

SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar told The Star that Uber customer satisfaction is high, and that the service seems to be picking up customers that taxis left behind.

“We have received a lot of reports on Uber. Our own officers have gone in to use the service, and ministers also say it is excellent,” he told the English-language daily. “But the thing is, they (Uber) are not operating within the system. If anything goes wrong… Nobody should be allowed to operate outside the system when everyone is bound by the law.”

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Taxi drivers have termed the Uber service “kereta sapu” (illegal taxi), according to the SPAD chairman, but he added that taxi operators must also do better to give customers the service they want, The Star report said. Syed Hamid also said that Uber had failed to respond to SPAD’s calls.

Bernama reported recently that Gabungan Persatuan dan Syarikat-Syarikat Teksi Semenanjung Malaysia (GABUNGAN) has called on SPAD to act against Uber. Apart from taking away their customers, taxi operators claim Uber is not bound by the law, and that if an accident happens, passengers are at risk.

“As far as I know, they (Uber) also do not have public liability insurance which puts the safety of passengers at risk,” Syed Hamid told The Malaysian Insider. The fact that Uber utilises private cars which have no operating licence is already against existing public transport laws, he added.

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Still, the SPAD chairman acknowledged the excellence of Uber’s services, saying to TMI that the public would not use regular taxis if their service was not up to mark. Any improvements to public transport are welcome, but they must be within the system, he added.

Uber’s services currently cover 57 cities in 22 countries. It launched in KL in October 2013, and recently introduced the budget UberX service here.

In an interview with our sister publication TechAttack.my, Uber regional GM Michael Brown revealed that each Uber driver undergoes a screening process during hiring, which includes a criminal background check, driving history check, as well as an ongoing quality assurance via a passenger-rating system. He added that Uber cars are covered by insurance for both driver and passengers.

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Uber only supplies the technology and the system to connect customers to transport providers. The cars are all supplied by third-party partners comprising limousine companies. MyTeksi’s GrabCar service follows the same concept. Though Uber doesn’t reveal its partners, some of the rides we took before were operated by companies like Extreme Limousines & Tours. This information is available to you in your Uber ride’s receipt.

Learn more about Uber here: