Third-party taxi booking companies to be regulated by the LTA

Third-party taxi booking services like GrabTaxi (pictured) and Uber will soon be regulated by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Third-party taxi booking services like GrabTaxi (pictured) and Uber will soon be regulated by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). -- PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Third-party taxi booking services like GrabTaxi and Uber will soon be regulated by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

In a statement on Friday morning, the LTA announced that it will introduce a regulatory framework for these services to safeguard commuter safety and interests.

Under the framework, third-party booking services will have to comply with five conditions.

These are:

1. Registering with the LTA. Successful applicants will be granted a certificate, which is valid for three years.

2. Dispatching only licensed taxis and drivers who have valid taxi vocational licenses. This is to ensure that commuters are served by taxis and taxi drivers who are operating legally in Singapore.

3. Making clear all fare rates, surcharges, and fees payable with commuters upfront. These include the flag-down fare, distance and time rates and booking fees, as well as peak period and location surcharges.

Alternatively, third-party booking service operators can provide commuters with the option to set their user preferences to automatically reject certain types of taxis, or taxis with certain fare rates and surcharges.

Bidding and pre-trip tipping will not be allowed, to ensure that taxi services remain equally accessible to all.

Booking fees also cannot exceed those charged by taxi companies.

4. Not making it a requirement for consumers to specify their destinations before they can make bookings.

"While the taxi industry has shared that knowing prospective passengers' destinations can encourage drivers to accept bookings, there are concerns that some taxi drivers may choose their passengers and avoid taking bookings to certain destinations," the LTA statement said.

5. Providing basic customer support services, including lost-and-found services and avenues for feedback or complaints.

The LTA said that it consulted commuters, the National Taxi Association, third-party taxi booking services, and taxi companies over the past year before coming up with the framework.

The framework is expected to take effect in the second quarter of next year.