SINGAPORE: Regulations for the private-hire car industry are being reviewed as the fast-growing sector continues to evolve, Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng said on Wednesday (Mar 7).
Speaking in Parliament during the Committee of Supply debates, Mr Ng said the Government is studying how to structure the private-hire car industry and license booking service operators. These include ride-hailing apps like Grab and Uber.
“Licensing will give the Government a broader range of regulatory levers to ensure that the rapidly evolving PHC (private-hire car) industry grows in a manner which meets the needs of commuters, drivers, and our broader transport policy,” he said.
Mr Ng said that when the private-hire car industry was in its early stages of development a few years ago, the Government had decided to impose minimal conditions on booking service operators to avoid stifling innovation.
This is why current regulations focus on protecting commuter safety and interests, he said.
However, the sheer size of the industry today means that the actions of operators affect a significant number of commuters and drivers, Mr Ng said.
There are now more than 40,000 private-hire car drivers, as compared with 96,000 licensed taxi drivers. Most of the private-hire drivers come under the industry's two largest players, Grab and Uber.
“It is imperative that the Government has sufficient regulatory oversight over the PHC booking service operators to protect the interests of commuters and drivers.”
Operators of private-hire services should also bear greater responsibility in ensuring the safety of commuters – beyond current requirements, he said.
As the private-hire car and taxi industries consolidate, the Government also has to ensure that commuters and drivers continue to have options, and no single market player will dominate the industry to the detriment of commuters and drivers, he said.
More details of the regulatory review will be announced “in due course”, Mr Ng said.