taxiBy Howard Lee

Taxi availability (TA) will henceforth be calculated based on taxis that have been hired out, rather than what taxi operators currently have registered in their fleet, announced the Land Transport Authority in a media release.

This adjustment takes into account feedback from the National Taxi Association and taxi companies, and will be applied retrospectively from 1 January 2015.

LTA used to measure the availability of taxis offered by operators based on their registered fleet in a bid to encourage the companies to deploy on the streets as many as possible of all the taxis which they have registered and for which special Certificates of Entitlement (COEs) had been allocated.

However, the new measurement benchmark will help to measure the efficiency of hired taxis more accurately.

LTA also noted that “taxi drivers would not have to increase their mileage to make up for the non-performance of the unhired taxis.”

Service standards will remain unchanged.

Taxi companies that have the requisite percentage of taxis on the roads during peak periods, and percentage of taxis with minimum daily mileage of 250km, in four months out of every half-yearly period, may then grow their fleet in the corresponding six-month period of the following year, capped at 2% per annum for now.

Financial penalties will still be imposed on operators if they fail to meet minimum daily standards – 85% to meet 250km on weekdays, and  75% to meet 250km on weekends and public holidays – for two consecutive months.

The financial penalty amount will continue to be computed based on taxi companies’ registered fleets, as is the case for penalties for failing the taxi Quality of Service standards.

Records in March 2015 showed that a number of operators failed the requirement.

Using the hired-out fleet to compute TA and applying against the second year TA standards, LTA has served notices of penalties to SMRT for the months of January and February, and to Prime for the months of January, February and March 2015.

“LTA strongly urges taxi companies not to pass down the penalties incurred to their drivers if the companies fail the TA standards. Taxi companies should instead continue their good work in assisting their drivers to achieve these standards.”

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