SINGAPORE: Amid growing competition from private car hire services, the Government will look to review Singapore’s taxi availability framework by the end of 2016, Senior Minister of State for Transport Ng Chee Meng said in Parliament on Tuesday (Sep 13).
This is to “further level the playing field” between traditional taxi operators and its new rivals from app-based private car-sharing services such as Uber and GrabCar, said Mr Ng, who is also Acting Education Minister (Schools).
Put in place since January 2013, the taxi availability standards require taxis to clock a minimum daily mileage and ply the roads during peak hours, according to the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) website. Private car-sharing services, however, are not subjected to such requirements.
With the rapid growth of newer ride-booking services, there may be room for adjustments to be made to the taxi availability standards, said Mr Ng.
“We are monitoring the situation closely, gathering data on commuter preferences and availability of taxis on the roads so that, where appropriate, we will further level the playing field for the industry and review the taxi availability framework with a balanced view towards commuter needs and also the welfare of taxi drivers,” he added in response to a parliamentary question from Member of Parliament Desmond Choo.
At the moment, the income of taxi drivers working for traditional operators have remained largely unaffected. According to Mr Ng, the average monthly gross earnings of taxi drivers, including rental feeds and fuel costs, have remained relatively unchanged since 2013, while average monthly net income rose by about 5 per cent in real terms due to lower fuel costs.
Meanwhile, Mr Ng pointed out that nearly 80 per cent of all taxis are able to meet the daily minimum mileage requirement of 250 kilometres per day, with more than 75 per cent of these clocking more than 300 kilometres a day. In addition, the proportion of two-shift taxis have rose to 68 per cent, from 53 per cent, since the roll-out of the taxi availability framework three years ago, he said.