Get all drivers involved in social carpooling

While private-hire vehicles in other countries are usually cars owned by the drivers, the ones in Singapore tend to be rented, thus creating a "rental car for hire" market (Drivers seek 'fairer approach' in taxation; Sept 20).

We should move away from this "rental car for hire" market to a "private car for hire" market and leverage the car-sharing platform.

Cars bought by rental companies for private-hire use should have a shorter certificate of entitlement validity of eight years. This is to reflect the higher usage of such vehicles and will be in line with the restrictions on taxis.

Ride-hailing app operators should not be operating a car rental business.

Otherwise, they would have a cross-subsidising competitive advantage which is not available to other car rental companies.

If the operators do have a car rental business on a sizeable scale, there should be some regulation control, like those for taxi businesses.

There are more than 40,000 private car owners using one of the mobile platforms for social carpooling.

There is, therefore, an acceptance among car owners to have strangers on board their vehicles.

If Singapore endeavours to be a smart nation that embraces technological change, there should be a national movement to have all private cars here on board the car-sharing push.

In doing so, there will be economies of scale and a full exploitation of the technology.

The use of every car will be better optimised and the entire car-sharing platform will be more efficient.

Such optimisation will be useful when the occasional public transport problem surfaces.

The Government, as the largest employer, can lead this charge by allowing civil servants to register as private-hire car drivers.

Perhaps, some restrictions can be imposed, such as allowing only up to two trips on working days, except on Fridays and the eve of public holidays.

Other employers can then take the lead from the civil service.

Cho Hon Loon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2017, with the headline 'Get all drivers involved in social carpooling'. Print Edition | Subscribe