40% of private-hire drivers still without trade licence

Mr Quek Kuan Boon, 47, conducting a Private Hire Car Driver's Vocational Licence training class at ComfortDelGro Taxi, one of the LTA-appointed training centres. The trainer said that some students may find it a challenge to understand parts of the s
Mr Quek Kuan Boon, 47, conducting a Private Hire Car Driver's Vocational Licence training class at ComfortDelGro Taxi, one of the LTA-appointed training centres. The trainer said that some students may find it a challenge to understand parts of the syllabus that are quite "technical".ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

23,900 have until end-June to pass test, failing which they have to stop providing the services

There are 56,300 private-hire car drivers on the roads now but a significant number may have to stop picking up passengers in a month's time.

A total of 23,900 drivers, or about 40 per cent, have yet to undergo the Private Hire Car Driver's Vocational Licence (PDVL) training or pass the test.

These private-hire drivers were given a one-year grace period by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to provide chauffeur services after the regulator introduced a vocational licensing scheme in the middle of last year. They were allowed to continue operating for apps such as Grab and now-defunct Uber, provided they sent in a PDVL application before July 1 last year.

The LTA has given them up till the end of this month to take the 10-hour course and pass the test. If they fail, they will have to stop providing the services.

Observers have said that many among this group of 23,900 drivers may leave the industry entirely, in the wake of the Grab-Uber merger in March, which has seen lower incomes for drivers.

The LTA said the test has a 70 per cent passing rate.

But some students may not be proficient in English, said Mr Quek Kuan Boon, 47, who conducts PDVL classes at ComfortDelGro Taxi, one of the training centres appointed by the LTA. He said these students may find it a challenge to understand some of the syllabus, such as the rules and regulations, which can be quite "technical".

Mr Soon Zhao Hui, 26, who obtained his PDVL on his first attempt in February, said the challenge was in memorising some of the syllabus - such as the demerit point system, and a section on staying healthy, covering topics such as cholesterol and blood pressure levels.

While drivers have grumbled about the long queue to get a slot in the PDVL course and take the test, the LTA said yesterday the average waiting period has been reduced to one week, from between four and six weeks. It has increased capacity by appointing ComfortDelGro Taxi as a training provider and the Employment and Employability Institute as a test centre in December last year. Before that, the Singapore Taxi Academy was the main training provider and test centre.

The LTA said that it strongly encourages the 23,900 private-hire car drivers to sign up for the training and take the PDVL test. Since the start of the year, it has been sending SMSes and letter reminders and is also working with the National Private Hire Vehicles Association to get drivers to go for the course.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2018, with the headline '40% of private-hire drivers still without trade licence'. Print Edition | Subscribe