SINGAPORE - Taxi operators and private-hire car firms can approach the Land Transport Authority (LTA) if they are interested in allowing their drivers to perform courier services on a limited trial basis, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary announced in Parliament on Monday (Sept 10).
The LTA will work with operators to assess the feasibility of a trial, as well as ensure minimal impact on the availability of taxis and private-hire cars, he said.
The authority will also ensure that commuter interests are safeguarded in the case of such a trial, such as ensuring vehicles have the appropriate third-party insurance coverage, said Dr Janil in response to questions from Mr Ang Hin Kee (Ang Mo Kio GRC).
Mr Ang - who is also executive adviser to the National Taxi Association (NTA) and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) - had asked about the progress of both associations' calls to review regulations and allow drivers of such vehicles to do courier services.
Last year (2017), it was reported that e-commerce giant Amazon had turned to taxi and private-hire car drivers to fulfil orders under its Prime Now fast delivery service.
The LTA warned at the time that cabbies and private-hire drivers are not allowed to be couriers or deliverymen for goods without a passenger on board.
The authority later said it would “monitor recent trends to see if these regulations need to be reviewed”, in response to the call from the NTA and NPHVA that the rules be changed to allow drivers to complement their incomes.
Last month, the authority warned transportation start-up Ryde that its plans to use private-hire car drivers for its RydeSend courier service contravened these regulations.
Ryde later said it would tap only drivers who use Ryde for non-commercial carpooling for the courier service.
The regulations exist to ensure that taxi and private-hire cars remain available to provide point-to-point services for commuters, said Dr Janil on Monday, adding that drivers found violating the rules could have their vocational licences revoked.
"Thus far, LTA has not found any driver in violation of these rules," he noted.