LTA may change stand on barring cabbies from courier jobs

The Land Transport Authority had previously said taxi and private-hire drivers are not allowed to be couriers or deliverymen for goods if there is no passenger on board.
The Land Transport Authority had previously said taxi and private-hire drivers are not allowed to be couriers or deliverymen for goods if there is no passenger on board. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A day after it came out strongly against taxis and private-hire vehicles being used for courier and delivery services, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has now said that the rules may change.

"LTA will monitor recent trends to see if these regulations need to be reviewed," a spokesman for the authority told The Straits Times on Thursday (Aug 3).

Its response came shortly after the National Taxi Association lobbied for the rule to be changed.

National Taxi Association adviser Ang Hin Kee said delivery services would be a complementary business, and that they would not adversely affect taxi availability.

He said: "As it is, there is excess capacity during off peak hours. This will reduce empty cruising."

The LTA had long stood firm on its rules, which are meant to prevent taxi drivers from being distracted by non-fare tasks.

 

"Taxis and private-hire cars are public service vehicles licensed to carry passengers for hire and reward," the LTA spokesman noted.

Mr Anthony Chey, an insurance partner at law firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, concurred.

"The paramount consideration for public transport vehicles is to ensure that commuters have access to the public transport," he said.

"Allowing taxis to do courier services without a passenger onboard will defeat the purpose of them being recognised as public transport vehicles. Anyone can do courier services, but not everyone can pick up a passenger from the street."

Dr Walter Theseira, an economist and senior lecturer at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, countered by saying that the transport sphere has already evolved, and that taxis are not the only ones serving commuters.

"Under the implied new regulatory stance, it would seem more consistent to me if all vehicle drivers and all vehicles were allowed to provide any reasonable transport service except in cases where there are policy concerns," he said. These exceptions would include the carrying of dangerous goods such as chemicals "because it might affect fitness of use for a human passenger".