More regulation for S’pore’s private-hire car industry: Ng Chee Meng

Government will be stepping in more closely in near future.

By Jeanette Tan | March 7, 2018

Everybody takes Uber and Grab these days, especially anyone with a smartphone.

People in Singapore now take 1 million taxi, Uber and Grab rides every single day, according to the 2017 Public Transport Council point-to-point customer satisfaction survey.

This is how much private-hire car services have come up in great force to complement our taxi industry.

However, there are still more taxi drivers than private hire car drivers.

Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng said in his speech during the ongoing Committee of Supply debates that there are 96,000 taxi drivers currently as compared with the estimate of more than 40,000 private-hire car drivers.

And these have only been a good thing. Ng said complaints about taxi unavailability have gone down “significantly”.

According to the survey’s findings, Ng said private-hire car services have grown from a “nascent” industry to one that has entrenched itself as an important part of Singapore’s public transport system.

He said the survey estimates that private hire car rides now double the number of regular taxi rides.

Government must regulate further

Because of these developments, Ng announced in Parliament that the government will not only license drivers as it is already doing, it will also move toward licensing private hire car operators, as part of a process of strengthening regulations governing the industry.

He cited these reasons:

  1. How big the industry is now sends a clear signal that it affects many commuters and drivers, and all of our/ their interests must be protected
  2. There are limitations to the existing initial approach the government took — for instance, while the Land Transport Authority (LTA) could issue a suspension order that stops drivers from driving for a specific company, this “blunt” tool will impact the livelihoods of drivers for that company as well as customers, who will have fewer choices.
  3. The government wants companies like Uber and Grab to bear greater responsibility for commuter safety, and
  4. In the interest of ensuring there is always healthy competition in the industry, the government has to take steps to structure it too.

And how does all this affect you?

We can’t say for sure yet.

Details on what the government will do are still sketchy at this point.

Butwe’ll let you know when they are decided upon.

Top photo: screenshot from YouTube video

About Jeanette Tan

Jeanette takes pride in her ability to sing the complete lyrics to Hakuna Matata and a host of other Disney songs. She holds out hope to someday be talent-spotted to do voice-overs for documentaries, lifts and automated telephone answering systems.

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