SINGAPORE: The new licensing framework for private-hire car drivers is set to begin, with the opening of applications for the Private Hire Car Driver's Vocational Licence (PDVL) - a requirement for these drivers - on Mar 13.
This comes about a year after the framework was first announced by the Transport Ministry, following the disruption by on-demand service providers like Grab and Uber. Since the operators first emerged in 2013, almost one in two point-to-point trips are private-hire rides, and this has led to calls from the taxi industry for a more level playing field.
In a news release on Thursday (Mar 9), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that drivers whose applications are received by Jun 30 will have up to a year to attend and pass the PDVL course - a two-hour self-study and eight-hour classroom programme on private-hire car rules and regulations, safety and service quality.
The course will be conducted by the Singapore Taxi Academy and during this one-year "transitional period", drivers can continue to provide private-hire car services, LTA added.
But for drivers whose applications reach LTA after Jun 30, they must obtain a PDVL before they can provide such services, the agency said.
According to LTA, applicants must hold a Class 3/3A driving licence, valid for a continuous period of at least two years. All applicants will be required to undergo a medical examination and be subject to background checks. There will be a non-refundable S$40 application fee.
Singapore citizens can apply for the PDVL as a self-employed driver, which is a break from the norm. Currently, Singaporeans are required to either own or be employed by a chauffeured services business, it said.
However, non-Singapore citizen applicants, for example Singapore permanent residents or foreign Work Pass holders, must be employees of a chauffeured services company to be eligible for the PDVL, LTA said.
"Drivers employed by traditional chauffeured services companies may be exempted from the PDVL course if their companies’ in-house training programmes meet LTA’s requirements," it added.
From Jul 1, private-hire car drivers will also be required to display a tamper-evident decal on the front and back windscreens of their cars, LTA said.
"This will facilitate enforcement against unregistered cars providing private-hire car services, and private-hire cars that commit offences such as picking up passengers via street hail," LTA said.
Taxi drivers or Taxi Driver's Vocational Licence (TDVL) holders need not apply for a PDVL as the existing TDVL will allow holders to drive both taxis and private-hire cars. The TDVL refresher course conducted by the Singapore Taxi Academy for existing TDVL holders will be expanded to cover private-hire car rules and regulations, the agency said.
Grab and Uber detailed their initiatives to help drivers speed up the application process for the PDVL on Thursday, with Grab saying it will invest S$10 million to help its existing drivers obtain the licence. Uber meantime, has a programme called Fastlane to cover the application costs and offer one-stop centre service to help drivers with their medical checks and paperwork.