SINGAPORE: Ride-hailing service provider Uber said that it is supportive of any effort by the Government to improve the well-being and safety of passengers and drivers, but it was not given the opportunity to provide input on some of the amendments to the Road Traffic Act, which were passed in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 7).
Uber Singapore general manager Warren Tseng told Channel NewsAsia in an email that with the amendments, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) now has the power to suspend operations of a private hire care booking service operator for up to a month should at least three of an operator's affiliated drivers be convicted of certain licensing or driving offences.
This suspension applies to both the operator and to all its affiliated drivers, who must stop using the operator's app during the suspension, Mr Tseng said.
If the driver continues to drive for the operator during the suspension period, they could be fined up to S$2,000, jailed for up to six months, or both, depending on the number of offences. Their vocational licence could also be suspended or revoked.
"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," Mr Tseng said.
"These new rules are likely to have the most impact on those who use the network to drive while in between jobs and those who use it to generate their sole source of income. 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," he added.
"WHEN INDUSTRY PLAYERS ENGAGED, RESULT OFTEN BETTER"
He said the company will continue to review the amendments to better understand the implications for its drivers, riders and its business, as well as partner with drivers to navigate through the changes. It will continue to engage LTA and other relevant stakeholders on this matter, the executive said.
"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," Mr Tseng said.
On the changes, Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng had said in Parliament on Tuesday that the regulations are not overly onerous. "Service providers like Uber and Grab will agree that these are necessary for the interest of commuters."
When asked about the regulatory changes, a Grab spokesperson told Channel NewsAsia that the company has a "robust" driver registration process, vehicle inspection framework and relevant internal processes in place to support the proposed amendments.
"Our 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," the spokesperson added.