Taxi apps: Make it fair, not flat

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The National Taxi Association released a notice to Senior Minister of State Ng Chee Meng with several demands from members of the NTA.

Three headers outline the demands. These include:

  • Assurance of commuter’s safety and security
  • Ensure Fair Competition amongst service providers offering point-to-point transfers.
  • Embrace new technology and evolve business model for Greater
  • Efficiency on the use of our transport assets

In detail, it asks that the regulators do some of the following:

  • Similar qualifications and certifications for the third-party drivers
  • Easy identification of vehicles and drivers
  • Review third-party operating costs, fees and rates
  • Review the charges and fees of third-party apps
  • Consistency in regulation taxi and private hire services

While there were concerns about safety due to a lack of regulation in Singapore, these fears have now been allayed with new laws recently passed in Parliament. After surveying all the feedback that were given, the Government decided on a “light-touch approach” in order to allow enough space for the market to innovate and thrive.

What NTA is asking for now, is to make it more fair for taxi drivers to compete with the likes of Uber.

I’ve read the statement in full and personally I don’t feel that the taxi association is asking for a flat playing field. Competition sounds like it is welcome, but at the moment there taxi drivers are playing with on different rules.

To start with, did you know that taxi drivers are by contract, not allowed to use the apps? Yes, although many do… it is still a breach.

Now add to that a flood of casual competitors who do not need to play by traditional taxi regulations. Doesn’t that reek of unfairness?

Drivers have seen their earnings take a hit when the likes of Uber came about and there is virtually nothing they could do about it. It is up to the taxi companies with their powers of negotiation to iron out matters with the regulators. Even then, regulators seem unwilling to be seen to be too sympathetic with them, lest it proves politically unpopular.

This is where the National Taxi Association help by flexing industrial power. Representing drivers who are members of the NTA, they put together a document detailing their requests and difficulties.

It isn’t meant at all to help the taxi companies, but sometimes speaking on behalf of the companies directly affects the driver’s wallets. After all third-party driving applications aren’t really a permanent means of a livelihood.

 

 

 

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Tay Leong Tan

Tay Leong Tan is a collective of 3 writers. Tay, Leong and Tan. (Who were you expecting?!) We are enthusiastic about labour issues, economics and current affairs in particular.

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