Singapore announced last week that drivers working for ride-share operators such as Uber and Grab would now be required to obtain a vocational license to work. The requirement was asked for a long time by taxi operators who complaint about discriminatory practices from both private car sharing operators. Uber and Grab have constantly progressed since being introduced in Singapore over two years ago.
According to the latest transport statistic by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), taxi companies are seeing unhired taxi vehicles rate up to 5.9%, a rise from 4.2% in 2015. More than 1,620 unhired taxi vehicles are now sitting in the garages, and the total number of taxi on the road fell to 27,500 in 2016, from 28,300 in 2015.
Taxi companies in Singapore have complaint that the sharp increase in vehicles used for car sharing operators is also due to the absence of regulation. The Parliament passed then a new regulation which will force companies and their drivers to abide to LTA rules.
The new law gives to LTA the power to “introduce and enforce other rules such as ensuring the service operators provide the authority with trip and other fleet-related data to help in transport planning”. Safety regulation for consumers is also included in the frame.
Nex step is for the LTA would introduce a new Private Hire Car Driver Vocational Licensing (PDVL) framework, private-hires would also need to be registered, and have a tamper-evident document stating that their are PDVL compatible.
The government needs now to see what will be the reaction from both Grab and Uber. The latter already declared that “it is supportive of any effort by the Government to improve the well-being and safety of passengers and drivers, […] it was not given the opportunity to provide input on some of the amendments to the Road Traffic Act”.
In particular, the amendment that will have a private-hire company suspend all its operations if 3 of its drivers are found committing licensing or driving offences.
Said Uber Singapore’s general manager Warren Tseng, “This penalty would not only affect operators, but would also impact the tens of thousands of other hardworking driver-partners who are not to blame for the mistakes of just three other driver-partners. […] Hundreds of thousands of commuters would also be affected; especially those who have come to rely on Uber rides as a vital part of their commute.”
Stating that Uber will “continue to review the amendments to better understand the implications”, he added:
“When industry players are engaged, the result is often a better outcome that simultaneously meets the regulator’s objectives, whilst safeguarding those of other stakeholders, in this case private hire car drivers and riders, and moves the industry forward as a whole.”
Grab sounds more positive and declared to newspapers that “its goal is to provide the safest transportation platform for users, while ensuring Grab driver-partners continue to earn sustainable incomes – and we are in favour of bill amendments that complement this mission.”