UberTaxi gets LTA nod to continue operating here

The Lucky Plaza taxi stand in 2015.
The Lucky Plaza taxi stand in 2015. PHOTO: ST FILE

Uber's cab booking service UberTaxi was given the green light to continue operating in Singapore by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Thursday.

It joins other third-party cab booking services that have successfully registered under a regulatory framework that took effect in September last year. Both GrabTaxi and Hailo were approved in December, while MoobiTaxi and Karhoo were approved in February.

Asked why Uber's approval took longer, Uber Singapore general manager Warren Tseng said "paperwork and bureaucracy" required time. He said Uber had been working with LTA to meet the accreditation requirements.

"Data sharing is something we typically don't do with anyone, including governments, so that was the compromise we made to be regulated," he told The Straits Times.

The Third-Party Taxi Booking Service Providers framework was created with the aim of safeguarding commuters' interests, with cab booking via mobile apps becoming more prevalent in recent years.

Such apps allow commuters to book taxis that are nearest to them, regardless of the operator.

Under the regulations, these apps must dispatch only licensed taxis, and specify all fares upfront.

Bidding and pre-tipping for taxis, such as previously available on the GrabTaxi app - and later removed - are also not allowed under the guidelines.

Taxi apps that were active in Singapore before September last year, such as UberTaxi, were allowed to continue operating, provided they sent in an application before Dec 1 last year.

Service providers that are found by LTA to have fallen short of the requirements would not be allowed to operate in Singapore. They also risk being fined or jailed if they are found operating without a certificate, which is valid for three years.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2016, with the headline 'UberTaxi gets LTA nod to continue operating here'. Print Edition | Subscribe