Laws governing private-hire car companies) like Grab and Uber need to be shaken up, Second Transport Minister Ng Chee Meng said yesterday.

 

He told Parliament this is necessary because they have become an important part of our land transport system, providing an estimated twice as many rides as taxis now.

So ride-hailing services could be regulated further in future, and be even subject to licensing.

Mr Ng said the operators should have greater responsibility in ensuring the safety of commuters, and their actions can affect a significant number of commuters and drivers.

But the current basic regulations have limitations and only licenses drivers of ride-hailing services and their vehicles.

In extreme cases, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) can suspend drivers, but this is a “blunt tool”.

 

As the industry grows, Mr Ng said, it is imperative that the Government has sufficient regulatory oversight over ride-hailing firms to protect the interests of commuters and drivers.

He also said the Government has to ensure the industry remains open and contestable, given the current consolidation between ride-hailing service providers and taxi companies.

“We must make sure that commuters and drivers continue to have options, and that no single market player will dominate the industry to the detriment of commuters and drivers,” said Mr Ng.

A Grab spokesman told The New Paper it will be engaging LTA on ways to benefit both its drivers and passengers.

He said: “We have always prioritised advancing the interests of our customers above and beyond requirements, and will continue to do so.”

Uber Singapore and Malaysia general manager Warren Tseng said on its website: “We look forward to working with the Singapore Government to continue improving the industry in ways that encourage growth and innovation while maintaining safety and reliability.”

Ms Tammy Tan, group corporate communications officer of ComfortDelGro, told TNP it welcomes the review.

She said: “It is necessary for long-term sustainability of both sectors and for the benefit of drivers and commuters alike.”

Transport economist Walter Theseira of the Singapore University of Social Sciences said the authorities could be looking into such issues as pricing, fleet size and operational standards for the review.

He told TNP: “This review was inevitable because in markets everywhere, regulators are already looking into it quite seriously.

“But it is too early to predict what form these regulations will take.”

 

 

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