SINGAPORE: Taxi drivers and private-hire drivers could be allowed to pick up and drop off passengers at bus stops and bus lanes in the future, if recommendations from two industry associations are accepted.
The recommendations by the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) and National Taxi Association (NTA) are in response to a call by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) for feedback on the Land Transport Master Plan 2040.
The master plan should "actively involve chauffeured services as part of a seamless and well-connected public transport network", the two associations said in media release on Wednesday (Dec 19).
They reasoned that with Singapore facing an ageing population, workplace decentralisation, a rise in freelance workers or workers with dynamic work arrangements and families with growing childcare demand, there will be a need for more flexible or shorter transportation.
"Rigidity arising from fixed routes, fixed locations of MRT stations and bus stops are unable to cater to these needs," they said.
SEAMLESS TRAVEL AND BETTER WORK MOBILITY FOR COMMUTERS
Among the suggestions for commuters, the associations recommended an integrated transport app that would help them work out the best travel option between all modes of transports, including taxis and private-hire vehicles.
To provide better work mobility, they suggested better Wi-Fi coverage on board all public transport options and co-working places at Integrated Transport Hubs, the air-conditioned bus interchanges linked to MRT stations and commercial developments.
Additionally, transport hubs should also provide charging stations for electric vehicles, shared bicycles, personal mobility devices as well as on-demand chauffeured ride services such as taxis and private hire vehicles, they said.
"This would allow commuters to have seamless connectivity when transiting across transport options, which would be critical for work mobility. Freelancers who are not bounded to one workplace will also benefit from this added convenience," they said.
The associations also highlighted a lack of "unprofitable services" such as bigger-capacity vehicles catering to commuters with special needs and point-to-point services during non-peak hours, saying that “regulatory levers” may be needed to accelerate the availability of such options.
They also suggested that the government continue to intervene in the public transport business to prevent a monopoly in the ride-hailing market. For instance, all commuting data should be publicly owned and shared with transport planners and operators so that better deployment can take place, they said.
BETTER LIVELIHOODS AND WORK ENVIRONMENT FOR DRIVERS
To improve the work environment and ensure a more sustainable livelihood for drivers, NPHVA and NTA called for LTA to nudge the emphasis for operators toward offering more innovations, instead of having them merely meet compliance standards.
“Obsolete” regulations such as Taxi Availability or Call Booking Standards should be reviewed, they said.
"Currently, taxi operators invest in systems to adhere to these regulations and drivers are penalised if they do not meet standards. Today, as passengers can already provide feedback through user reviews and have better matching with ride-hailing apps, the Taxi Availability or Call Booking Standards are no longer relevant," they said.
"Thus, resources can instead be channelled to leveraging technology to ensure supply of vehicles and service standards of drivers," they added.
They also called for regulators to create more revenue streams and less empty-cruising for drivers. This could include, for example, allowing chauffeured ride-service drivers to provide “bespoke services” such as delivery services.
Additionally, LTA should consider extending their dispute mediation services to private hire drivers, they said.
Executive Advisor of both NTA and NPHVA, and Member of Parliament Ang Hin Kee concluded: “We feel that a robust public transport system supported by a sustainable supply of chauffeured ride service drivers is required to meet the future transport needs of Singapore.
“We hope that our recommendations will help make the Land Transport Master Plan 2040 a more inclusive one, allowing easy access to public transport for commuters and provide a sustainable livelihood for our taxi and private hire vehicle drivers.”