Private car hire services meet commuters' needs

The National Taxi Association (NTA) is obliged to protect the interests of taxi drivers who are its members ("Review of private-hire services: Taxi association submits proposals"; Nov 17).

However, it ought to look at the reality of the situation. Are its members fulfilling the needs of the commuters?

Let me share some of my personal experiences.

One Sunday morning, I was trying to hail a taxi in Punggol Road.

Taxis just whizzed past, even though their signs read "For Hire".

One of them stopped and asked where I was going before declining to take me. After waiting for 20 minutes, I used an app for private car hire service and, within three minutes, the car arrived.

Another time, while in Tampines, there was a long queue for taxis. Strangely, after their passengers alighted, the taxi drivers almost immediately turned on their "On Call" signs and waited at the front of the taxi queue, presumably for bookings.

I approached one of them and asked why he was not taking passengers. He just waved me off and left hurriedly.

It is this kind of behaviour that irks customers.

We do not face such issues with private car hire services. Such third-party apps are a boon for commuters like me, as they give us another option for our travel needs.

The NTA has called for the review to look into three aspects: the safety and security of passengers, fair competition between transport providers and greater efficiency in meeting taxi demand.

Passengers using private car hire services whose drivers have valid driving licences are in no way less safe, compared with commuting in taxis that are under the purview of the NTA.

Moreover, private car hire services have their drivers' names, photos and contact numbers displayed on one's mobile phone. These additional safety features allow passengers to cancel the booking almost immediately, without incurring any cost, should they feel uncomfortable with a particular driver or car.

As for the NTA's third point, the fact remains that taxi companies cannot fulfil the needs of commuters and this is why the private car hire services are thriving ("3 taxi firms fined for falling short of standards"; Nov 17).

I hope the Government will act wisely in not unnecessarily curbing private car hirers who are addressing the needs of my fellow commuters, with excellent service.

Rajasegaran Ramasamy