Land Transport Authority (LTA) has announced that following the review of the Taxi Availability (TA) framework and in consultation with key stakeholders such as the National Taxi Association (NTA), taxi drivers and taxi companies, it will be simplifying the TA framework from 1 January 2017.
LTA stated that the “Percentage of Taxis with Minimum Daily Mileage of 250km” requirement and the shoulder peak periods requirement in the “Percentage of Taxis on the Roads during Peak Periods” indicator, will be removed.
Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng announced these changes to the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) Taxi Availability (TA) framework on Saturday (17 December) at a fundraising event involving the taxi industry and other stakeholders.
Mr Ng, who is also Education Minister (Schools), said in Parliament in September that the Government would review the TA framework by the end of the year amid growing competition from private car-hire services such as Grab and Uber.
Mr Ng, who was then Senior Minister of State for Transport, said that the changes were meant to “further level the playing field” between such service and traditional taxi operators.
These availability standards which were put in place since 2013, required taxis to clock a minimum daily mileage, as well as ply the roads during peak hours. However, private car-hire services are not subject to such requirements.
In the statement, LTA said that technology has in the last one to two years particularly, enhanced the point-to-point mobility landscape in Singapore. Today, third-party taxi booking applications and taxi companies’ own enhanced in-house booking applications have enabled better matching between commuters and taxis, and there are also more options available for commuters such as private hire car services provided by the likes of Uber and Grab.
In September, a news report estimated that Uber and Grab had a combined fleet of about 25,000 private cars.
As such, and in order to give taxi companies and taxi drivers more flexibility to adapt to the evolving market, LTA stated that it will simplify the TA framework.
According to LTA, the percentage of taxis on the roads during peak hours has increased from 82% in 2012 to 93% in the first nine months of 2016 since the introduction of the TA framework on 1 January 2013. This translates to about 2,000 more taxis being made available to commuters during these hours.
It also said that over the same period, the percentage of taxis plying at least 250km daily has also increased, from 75% to 81%. In fact, 64% of taxis clocked more than 300km daily from January to September 2016. The proportion of taxis on a two-shift system has also increased sharply from 53% to 68% in the four years since the TA framework was introduced. These trends indicate that more taxis are plying the roads, and more commuters are able to get a taxi via street-hail.
Previously, taxi operators were penalised for not having the required proportion of taxis meet the minimum mileage of 250km. During the whole 2016, Premier was fined $12,118, Prime was fined $57,354, and SMRT was fined $43,753.
LTA then said that for the reasons mentioned above and as the assessment is that there are and will continue to be sufficient taxis plying the roads to meet commuter demand, especially during the non-peak periods of the day, It will remove the 250km minimum daily mileage requirement from 1 January 2017.
LTA stated that it will also amend the “Percentage of Taxis on the Roads during Peak Periods” indicator by removing the shoulder peak periods requirement from 1 January 2017. Based on analysis over the past three years, the demand for taxis during the shoulder peak periods (6am – 7am and 11pm – 12am) is well-catered for.
It also noted that the peak periods requirement in the indicator “Percentage of Taxis on the Roads during Peak Periods” will, however, be retained. This is to ensure that commuters would still be able to get a taxi during these high demand periods.
In 2017, in assessing whether the taxi operators will have to pay a financial penalty for TA performance, LTA said that it will apply the 2017 standards (unlike in 2015 and 2016 when LTA applied the 2014 standards for assessment of financial penalties).
It added that the condition for taxi fleet growth remains the same, in which taxi companies will have to pass the 2017 standards in at least four months of every half-yearly period to be eligible to expand their fleet in the corresponding six-month period in the following year.
William Lim, a taxi driver commented to TOC on the changes. He said, “It (Minimum daily mileage) shouldn’t be there in the first place. Actually, taxi drivers are looking more help from the government like reduction of tax which translates into rental rebate.”
Kelvin Low wrote, “Last time 250 is to prevent people from abusing taxi for personal use. Now people can get private car for personal use and do UBER/GRAB”
James Quaky wrote, “It’s just superficial amendments. It doesn’t solve the real problem that TDs are facing.”
Johnson Wong wrote, “They know the 250km/day is no longer needed since PHV is out of control over the limit and the population is more taxi controlled population.
By right, they should have kept supply below demand which leave room for taxi drivers to be able to make a living. And since now it is supply more than demand. That is going to push the fare drop and everyone left with tidbits to eat.”
Eddie Tan wrote, “Scholars…. paper plan always looks good… when plan screw up they just crush the paper n throw.. they forgot the problem still exist or got worst… good example the tpe busstop at punggol n now the stupid sliver zones at housing estate..”