34,000 active private-hire car drivers yet to take vocational licence course or pass test

With the phasing in of a new vocational licensing regime for the private-hire industry, these 34,000 drivers were among those given a one-year grace period by the Land Transport Authority to continue providing chauffeur services.
With the phasing in of a new vocational licensing regime for the private-hire industry, these 34,000 drivers were among those given a one-year grace period by the Land Transport Authority to continue providing chauffeur services.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - About 34,000 private-hire car drivers - who have been driving for the Uber and Grab apps - have yet to undergo the required vocational training or to pass the course's test.

They will have another three months - until the end of June to do so - failing which they will have to stop driving for fares.

These figures, released by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Tuesday (April 3), have elicited concerns from the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) about the adequacy of training spaces.

With the phasing in of a new vocational licensing regime for the private-hire industry, these 34,000 drivers were among those given a one-year grace period by the LTA to continue providing chauffeur services.

The concession was granted if they had submitted a licence application before the cut-off date of June 30 last year.

The LTA said that 17,000 drivers have completed the 10-hour PDVL course and passed the exam so far.

In the last five months, an estimated two out of three drivers who took the PDVL tests passed, an LTA spokesman said, adding that the passing rate is similar to the vocational licensing course for taxi drivers.

The LTA said to cater to the new demand from applicants, it appointed ComfortDelGro Taxi as an additional training provider, and the Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) as an additional test centre in December.

This Singapore Taxi Academy started conducting the PDVL course and test in April 2017.

 
 
 

Still, NPHVA executive adviser Ang Hin Kee said: "It will be worrying if there is inadequate capacity and many have to wait their turn to take the course and test."

Mr Ang said some drivers have given feedback that they had to queue to get a class slot or exam date.

When asked if it was concerned about a potential dip in driver numbers after June 30, Grab did not comment.

But a Grab spokesman said: "We encourage all Grab and Uber driver-partners to quickly complete the PDVL process and give themselves sufficient time and leeway to study the course materials and prepare for the exam."

National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng, however, surmised that private-hire car drivers who are currently on the roads and have yet to take or pass their PDVL may be part-timers, who are weighing their options.

Given the recent Grab-Uber merger in Singapore - which may lead to driver incentives being reduced - Dr Lee said some may leave the industry entirely.

Dr Lee believes that until Indonesian ride-hailing giant Go-Jek makes its debut, the numbers of private-hire drivers may dip, as compared to the days when both Uber and Grab were active and recruiting drivers.