The government should not be prescriptive over how taxi companies recruit and manage drivers for their taxi fleets, said Land Transport Authority (LTA) chief executive Chew Hock Yong on Friday.
He wrote a letter, dated Dec 27, to National Taxi Association (NTA) advisor Ang Hin Kee responding to suggestions the latter had made about taxi availability. One of those suggestions was to make it mandatory for new taxi vocational licence holders to be relief drivers for a period of time. On that point, Mr Chew said a better approach is for the NTA to work with one or two taxi companies to consider such practices, and encourage others to follow suit if effective.
He added that taxi companies can apply to the LTA to exempt niche or "premium" taxi services from taxi availability standards. For instance, SMRT's London Cabs have been exempted due to its primary role in serving wheelchair users, he said.
The LTA is looking into the feasibility of a lower ERP rate or some form of discount for cabbies, which was another suggestion by the NTA. Mr Chew also said the LTA shared the NTA's view that taxi operators should not pass financial penalties on to cabbies, and added that this position has been reiterated to the companies.
He thanked the NTA for its suggestions and said the LTA will continue to work closely with the association and taxi companies to improve the taxi industry.