Several Members of Parliament raised questions about Grab's recent acquisition of Trans-cab and how it will impact commuters, drivers, the ride-hailing industry, and traffic congestion in general.
No plans to adjust COE
With regard to traffic congestion concerns, Acting Minister for Transport Chee Hong Tat said in a written reply that while e-commerce, the ride-hailing industry, and car-sharing services have grown, the government is still maintaining a zero per cent Vehicle Growth Rate.
This means the number of cars and motorcycles on the road is maintained every year.
"We also deploy Electronic Road Pricing to ease congestion in a targeted manner and where necessary," said Chee. "This applies to all cars – be it PHCs, or private cars."
Following a period of decline due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the overall private hire car population has increased to nearly pre-pandemic levels.
Even so, the proportion of private hire cars has remained steady at 10 per cent of the car population over the past four years.
There are currently no plans to adjust the Certificate of Entitlement (COE) system, said Chee, who added that the government will continue to study the impact of private hire cars on the COE market.
Trans-Cab drivers will be able to take ride-hail jobs on any platform
Moving to the impact of the acquisition on Trans-cab taxi drivers, Chee said that they will "still be able to continue driving as they do today, taking street-hail jobs or ride-hail trips on Grab and any other platforms".
This is because the Point-to-Point (P2P) Passenger Transport Industry Act prohibits operators from offering exclusive arrangements that lock in drivers and prevent them from driving for other operators.
"This gives drivers more options and ensures that they are free to choose which operators to drive for," said Chee.
Impact on commuters
Chee said that commuters are free to choose between different point-to-point services on the open market, including street-hail services with metered fares and ride-hail services with flat fares.
He added that commuters can compare prices and services offered by different ride-hail platforms and select the ride that best matches their needs and preferences.
There is also price transparency for commuters because ride-hail operators are required to state fares upfront, he said.
"Having an open market protects commuters, spurs platforms to innovate and improve their services, and allows smaller operators to compete with larger operators. It is also in the interest of platforms to ensure a fair allocation of jobs across drivers so that they would continue to have a large base of drivers to serve commuters."