SINGAPORE – Some 42,900 private-hire car drivers applied for a new mandatory vocational licence before July last year and got a grace period of one year to to get the licence.

But only half of them have attained the licence before the concession period ended on June 30 this year. This means that about 21,000 of these drivers would no longer be able to drive for private car-hire services like Grab.

In response to media queries, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said that only 22,000 – 51 per cent – of those who applied for a Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational Licence (PDVL) before July 1 last year passed the test.

Of the remainder, 3,100 drivers took the required course but failed the test, while 900 took the course but did not sit the test.

Some 16,900 – or about 40 per cent of all applicants – did neither the course nor the test.

This comes as the taxi sector sees a slight resurgence – the number of taxi driver vocational licences issued increased from 77 in December last year to 410 in April this year.

Figures from LTA also showed that only 9 per cent of Singapore’s taxi population was unhired in April, down from 12.5 per cent in January .

Grab declined to say whether it has seen a significant drop in the number of active private-hire car drivers in recent weeks.

However, the ride-hailing firm said it is working with the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to find job opportunities for drivers who did not get the licence.

It added that drivers can also choose to do deliveries through its food delivery service GrabFood, which does not require a vocational licence.

A Grab spokesman said the firm is also working with LTA to support drivers who still wish to take the PDVL, as well as exploring other options for the drivers.

However, Mr Ang Hin Kee, executive adviser to both the taxi and private-hire vehicle associations, said the number of PDVL holders does not necessarily provide an accurate reflection of how many private-hire car drivers there actually are on the roads.

Noting the vocational licence for taxi drivers can also be used to drive private-hire cars, the Ang Mo Kio MP said: “The cost of taxi rental remains quite high so some taxi drivers meanwhile choose to drive private-hire vehicles.”

With Grab rolling back its incentives for drivers, Mr Ang said he expected fewer to take up the job of driving private-hire cars in future.


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