Taxi Body Wants Study of Third Party App Drivers

The National Taxi Association (NTA) has submitted a list of recommendations for the Government's ongoing review of private-car app booking services such as Uber and GrabCar.

In a letter yesterday (16 Nov) to Transport Senior Minister of State (SMS) Ng Chee Meng, after having dialogues with over 300 cabbies, NTA called for three areas to be studied: the safety and security of passengers, fair competition between transport providers, and greater efficiency in meeting taxi demand.

NTA wants private-hire car drivers to be subject to the same certification and qualification requirements as cabbies. It also called for private-hire vehicles to be identifiable, and for its drivers to have photo identification for commuter safety.

While commuters in cabby disputes have clear channels for recourse, NTA Executive Adviser Ang Hin Kee said it is "currently unclear" whom commuters in private-car hires can make claims from.
  
Furthermore, taxi operators have to comply with a fixed schedule of Land Transport Authority (LTA)-approved charges but private hire drivers can “dynamically change” their pricing, which should be reviewed. NTA also urged LTA to recognise the effectiveness of third-party apps in determining service and availability standards, without falling back on “prescriptive, distorting and costly” statutory requirements. 

SMS Ng said on Facebook: “I am glad that NTA is looking beyond the taxi industry, and has even recommended how we can improve the safety and service quality of the private-hire car industry." He will be meeting commuters and private-hire drivers in the coming months.

With the ongoing public consultations, LTA said it will not tighten taxi availability standards for now, and will continue to use 2014 standards to assess financial penalties next year. LTA noted that while more taxis were available in the first nine months of 2015, some operators remain unable to meet standards consistently.

What are your views on regulating private-car app booking services for better commuter safety and convenience? Share your thoughts with us!

Sources: “Taxi body calls for stricter rules for drivers of car-booking apps” (TODAY, 16 Nov 2015),
“Taxi availability standards’ tightening to pause amid dialogue over apps” (TODAY, 17 Nov 2015),
“Review of private-hire services: Taxi association submits proposals” (The Straits Times, 17 Nov 2015)


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