Allowing taxi companies to agree on common surcharges not anti-competitive, says PTC

The Public Transport Council (PTC) has responded to concerns that taxi firms might violate the Competition Act by coming together to set the same taxi surcharges. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES 
The Public Transport Council (PTC) has responded to concerns that taxi firms might violate the Competition Act by coming together to set the same taxi surcharges. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES 

SINGAPORE - The Public Transport Council (PTC) has responded to concerns that taxi firms might violate the Competition Act by coming together to set the same taxi surcharges.

"Taxi companies will not fall afoul of the Competition Act in agreeing on the structure of certain taxi fare components, if they are doing so to comply with a legislative requirement," it said on Wednesday.

Under new regulations proposed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the PTC on Tuesday, the structure of certain taxi fare components such as surcharges and unit waiting time for metered rates are to be the same across all taxi companies.

Mr Ang Hin Kee, executive adviser of the National Taxi Association, had said on Tuesday that allowing firms to set surcharges together may be anti-competitive.

The Ang Mo Kio GRC MP said in the past, taxi companies were not allowed to discuss uniform charges, because that would infringe the Competition Act.

"Allowing the operators to sit down together and discuss on a common fares and rates may adversely affect commuters and drivers without adequate checks and balances on the part of PTC," said Mr Ang.

Said the PTC in its statement: "LTA and PTC are standardising some parts of the taxi fare structure to prevent taxi fares from becoming more complex for commuters in the future."

As taxi fares have been deregulated, taxi companies can still charge different unit fares, booking fees as well as flag-down fares, it added.

isaacneo@sph.com.sg