Tada battle continues ahead of a key vote

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Tada battle continues ahead of a key vote

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Another war of words has broken out on social media over Tada ahead of a vote in the National Assembly that could result in the van-hailing service becoming all but illegal.

The Assembly’s transportation committee Friday passed a revision to the Passenger Transport Service Act that would require the start-up to stop offering rides within a year and a half, or greatly alter its way of operating. The revision is set to be voted on the floor of the full Assembly.

It’s being called the “anti-Tada law.”

Park Yong-maan, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, criticized the revision, saying it could stifle innovation.

In a Facebook post Monday, Park said he feels “frustrated” as the “incomprehensible” bill advances, adding that politics is hampering Korea’s drive toward the future.

The anti-Tada law could be approved as early as Tuesday during a regular session at the National Assembly.

“If we leave a precedent like this that blocks the future, possibilities increase for another future prospect to be blocked,” said Park, a former Doosan Group chairman and current head of Doosan Infracore. “I understand the intention to protect the taxi industry, but I just can’t grasp if this way of obstructing the future is the only viable solution.”

To operate, Tada depends on a clause in the transport act that allows 11-passenger vans to be rented with drivers. It is an exception to a general ban on unlicensed operators offering paid ride services.

The revision being discussed in the National Assembly would eliminate that loophole and make it impossible for the van-hailing service to operate as it is. It would limit the renting of vans to those carrying tourists and limit pick-ups and drop-offs to airports and ports.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport is pushing for a rapid final approval, as the regular session of the National Assembly closes Tuesday. Bills at this stage are rarely voted down unless met with fierce resistance.

“I also think the comments regarding inconvenience and limitation to freedom of choice should be considered as well,” Park continued in the Facebook post.

Lee Jae-woong, CEO of Socar, which owns Tada, has been arguing that the revision would inconvenience 1.5 million Tada users and imperil the earnings of 10,000 drivers of the van-hailing service and hundreds of his company’s employees.

Lee has been questioning why the Transport Ministry is pushing for rapid final approval of the bill even though the ministry was supporting the development of the local car rental business just a few years ago.

This revision “is essentially a Red flag traffic law that would prohibit Tada from operations,” Lee said in a Facebook post Sunday.

Britain’s 19th-century “red flag” traffic laws limited cars to 3 kilometers (1.86 miles) per hour in the city and required people walk 50 meters (164 feet) in front of the vehicles with red flags.

The Tada founder added that the agreement reached between Kakao Mobility and the taxi industry on the company’s carpooling service essentially ended the service and led to a 20 percent increase in the base taxi fare.

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]

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