Taxi and private-hire car associations recommend integrated travel app, seek use of bus lanes and stops

An integrated transport app to help commuters choose travel options and allowing the use of bus stops and bus lanes for all public transport were among the proposals submitted. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Opening up bus lanes and bus stops for use by taxis and private-hire cars, and developing a transport app which offers commuters a buffet of all transportation options, including point-to-point chauffeured services.

These are among the proposals submitted by the National Taxi Association (NTA) and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) to the Government, which is currently seeking feedback from the public and stakeholders for its next land transport masterplan.

The NTA and NPHVA said on Wednesday (Dec 19) that their recommendations "focus on the need to involve chauffeured ride services as part of a seamless and well-connected public transport network for commuters".

"MRT trains and buses are important to developing a well-connected network, but it still needs to be supplemented by chauffeured ride services... This is a better trade-off than having more private vehicles," they added.

The associations said their proposals for the Land Transport Master Plan 2040 also seek to improve the livelihoods and work environment for taxi and private-hire car drivers.

The associations represent a combined 25,700 drivers, with the NTA's 18,000 members and the NPHVA's 7,700.

The NTA and NPHVA said they expect a need for more flexible or short-distance transport options in the future. This is due to factors including an ageing population, the decentralisation of workplaces, and more freelancers in the workforce, who have to commute multiple times a day.

Current transport options may not be adequate, and they recommended:

- An integrated transport app to help commuters work out the best travel option for each journey, covering all public transport modes, including taxis and private-hire cars. Bundled packages could be offered for rides across the different modes, regardless of provider.

-Transforming bus lanes and bus stops into mobility lanes and mobility stops for all public transport modes, including taxis and private-hire cars.

-Training road map for drivers so they are updated with new technological changes and can serve commuters well.

- Accelerated adoption of on-demand public transportation to cater to point-to-point services required at non-peak travel timings and for commuters with special needs, such as wheelchair users.

In its proposal, the NTA and NPHVA also called for the review of regulations imposed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on taxi operators, such as taxi availability and call booking standards.

"Currently, taxi operators invest in systems to adhere to these regulations and drivers are penalised if they do not meet standards," the associations said.

The NTA and NPHVA said that such regulations are "no longer relevant", as passengers can provide feedback through user reviews and are better matched with taxis through ride-hailing apps.

The associations also suggested that taxis and private-hire car drivers be allowed to perform courier service - which is currently not permitted, except on a limited trial basis and subject to LTA's approval.

Taxi and private-hire drivers should also not be tied to any specific operator or ride-hailing app in getting booking jobs, they recommended.

Additionally, a mediation service facilitated by the LTA for taxi drivers who are in dispute with their operators should be extended to private-hire car drivers, said the NTA and NPHVA.

Mr Ang Hin Kee, the executive adviser of the NTA and NPHVA, said in a statement: "We feel that a robust public transport system supported by a sustainable supply of chauffeured ride service drivers is required to meet the future transport needs of Singapore."

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