The government will start regulating ride-hailing apps under the new P2P Passenger Transport Bill that was passed just yesterday (6 August). Senior Minister of State for Transport Dr Janil Puthucheary announced in Parliament just before the bill was passed that the 45,000 vehicles under ride hailing apps such as Go-Jek, Grab and Ryde will eventually come under the new regulatory framework for the point-to-point (P2P) transport sector, alongside taxi operators.
The new framework, which is expected to take effect in June 2020, will include licensing requirements for operators with a fleet size of more than 800 vehicle. Operators with fewer than 800 vehicles will be exempted. License applications will be start in February 2020, clarified Dr Puthucheary.
On top of that, safety regulations for taxi operators will be expanded to also cover ride-hail service operators. Under the purview of the Land Transport Authority (LTA), PSP operators will be regulated based on whether they provide street-hail or ride-hail services.
Safety regulations that will be imposed include a tracking of all accidents and driver offences of each operator. Drivers can therefore be penalised through regulatory sanctions if need be, such as a general suspension order.
The P2P bill will also afford LTA the power to issue emergency directives to all operators such as prohibiting them from using vehicle models which pose safety risks or is found to be defective. It also allows the Public Transport Council to regulate the fares of ride-hail services, similar to its current oversight of taxi fares.
In his speech, Dr Puthucheary notes that there were 127 million private-hire car rides and 149 million taxi trips, which is about 6% of all journeys.
The roughly 65,000 taxis and private-hire cars on Singapore roads now means that commuters get to enjoy shorter waiting time for both street-hail and ride-hail trips, said the minister. “The waiting time for a taxi booking has fallen by about two minutes between 2016 and 2018, to just under seven minutes. Dynamic fares have also allowed better matching of supply and demand,” he explained.
Compared to 2013 when there were only about 28,00 taxis providing point-to-point transport, this is a significant improvement says Dr Puthucheary. “Long wait times and a lack of available taxis, especially during peak hours, were common complaints.”
In his clarification of the P2P bill prior to the second reading, Dr Puthucheary noted that the priority in introducing the new framework is to ensure that commuters have good, high quality and safe affordable services, that the interest of drivers are protected, that operators are encouraged to innovate and new operators are encouraged to come in.