Making Way for Better Taxi Availability

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To better serve commuters, the National Taxi Association (NTA) wrote suggestions to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) on July of 2013 regarding taxi availability. On December 27, 2013, the LTA’s chief executive Chew Hock Yong sent a written response addressed to Ang Hin Kee, NTA’s advisor. The following are major points of Mr. Chew’s reply:

  • On operators passing financial burden to drivers

The view of the NTA is to discourage taxi companies or operators from passing the burden of financial consequences to their drives. The LTA also shares the same view. If taxi companies or their operators have accrued penalties, such penalties should not be passed on to the drivers. The operators should instead create an incentive system to stimulate their drivers to achieve the standards.

  • Flexibility for the application of exemption

Taxi companies or operators are aware of the exemption niche. They are also aware that they are welcome to apply for this at the LTA office. LTA is already exercising it but they are looking into making it more flexible for the companies or operators. It was recommended that Singapore taxi companies should get inspiration from the London Cabs exemption.

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  • Minimizing empty taxi cruising

The LTA is fine-tuning its standards to minimize empty taxi cruising. The agency indicated from its studies that during peak hours (6am-7am & 11pm-12pm), there are fewer taxi requests, as well as shorter waiting times at taxi stands. With this data, the LTA adjusted the requirements to increase taxi availability (TA) requirement from 75% to 60%.

  • Taxi matching eService

For hirers who are not able to locate relief drivers, they should know that LTA initiated the Taxi Matching eService. Aside from that, drivers who are active will pay half of the TDVL (Taxi Driver’s Vocational License) and undertake a brief TDVL refresher program should they renew their licenses effective in January of 2014. The NTA, together with the LTA, are working on a mediation program for taxi drivers and their companies or operators for settling disputes.

  • Flexibility of operators when hiring relief drivers

The NTA proposed that the government require fresh taxi driver vocational license (TDVL) holders to begin as relief drivers. This simple act can expand the group of active-relief drivers. Currently, the practice in Singapore is that drivers start off as relief drivers before becoming hired. LTA shared its view that the government should not be excessively narrow especially on the recruitment issues of taxi companies.

The list goes on further. If you want to know the suggestions and response in full, you should refer to the LTA port. This exchange goes to show the Government’s concern for the welfare of our commuters. Apart from commuters, the taxi drivers should feel empowered so they will provide even better service.

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