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Uber forced to suspend motorbike taxi service in Bangkok

Thai transport official says UberMoto conflicted with existing services

Luis Enrique Ascui/Getty Images

Uber is suspending its motorbike service in Bangkok, Reuters reports, after the Thai government determined that it conflicts with existing taxi services. Nunthapong Cherdchoo, a senior official in Thailand's transport ministry, told Reuters this week that the government had ordered both Uber and Grab Bike to suspend their services. Uber later confirmed that it is "temporarily" halting its UberMoto service in a blog post published Tuesday.

UberMoto launched in Bangkok as a pilot program three months ago, marking the US company's first two-wheeled ride-hailing service. It has since launched in India and Indonesia, where motorbikes have become a popular mode of transportation do to chronic traffic congestion.

Another setback

Citing government data, Reuters reports that there are currently more than 186,000 motorcycles registered to provide taxi services in Bangkok. Thai authorities have recently cracked down on drivers employed by Uber and Grab Bike, which offers a similar service; Nunthapong tells Reuters that police have so far arrested 66 motorcycle drivers for the two companies, with each facing a fine of up to 4,000 baht ($112).

The Bangkok suspension marks yet another setback for Uber, which has conflicted with regulators across the world as it has expanded into new markets. In its blog post, the San Francisco-based company said it was looking forward to resolving the issue with the Thai government.

"Despite strong support from Thai riders and drivers, we have decided to temporarily suspend our Bangkok pilot, starting at noon while we work on creating modern regulations for app-based motorbike services with the Government," Uber said. "We are pleased that the Thai Government is open to discussing new rules that would enable services like uberMOTO for passengers to operate."