Cabbies' group calls for smart tech, flexi rental

Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng greeting a taxi driver at Changi Airport Terminal 4. During the visit, more than 1,000 taxi drivers and airport staff received gift bags prepared by the National Taxi Association.
Second Minister for Transport Ng Chee Meng greeting a taxi driver at Changi Airport Terminal 4. During the visit, more than 1,000 taxi drivers and airport staff received gift bags prepared by the National Taxi Association. ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Standardised taxis fitted with smart technology for drivers and elder-friendly features for passengers could be in the works if the National Taxi Association (NTA) has its way.

These were some suggestions made by the association at a Chinese New Year celebration at Changi Airport on Friday. The proposals were aimed at helping taxi drivers "stay ahead of the game", it said.

This was in response to the Land Transport Industry Transformation Map launched last week, which emphasised the use of technology as well as training for workers.

NTA executive adviser Ang Hin Kee said: "On our end, from the taxi drivers' point of view, we hope to see a lot of the transformation happening with the type of vehicles they drive."

In a statement, the NTA said that equipping the taxi fleet with smart technologies and driver-assisted features will "greatly enhance the ability of the drivers to drive smarter and safer on the roads".

It also proposed a flexi-rental model for drivers.

"The taxi rental model remains largely the same as 30 years ago, where drivers take on the full responsibility of renting a taxi vehicle on a 24-hour basis," the association pointed out. The vehicle is left idle when the driver is resting or sick.

Flexible vehicle rental arrangements "would go a long way in helping taxi drivers optimise the usage of their vehicles and helping taxi operators attract an untapped market of taxi vocational licence holders", it added.

The NTA also suggested changes to how drivers are trained.

Instead of relying on classroom or textbook-based learning, drivers could engage in e-learning, it said.

"For instance, the curriculum can focus on teaching drivers how to use and apply new navigation tools, instead of teaching drivers how to use the street directory," it said.

Rahimah Rashith

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 18, 2018, with the headline 'Cabbies' group calls for smart tech, flexi rental'. Print Edition | Subscribe