So yesterday, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced that it granted the permit to operate taxi apps to two providers – GrabTaxi and Hailo, while a third operator, Pair Taxi failed to secure a certificate of registration.
Pair Taxi is a taxi-sharing app which matches up to three passengers at a taxi stand to one taxi, and whose destinations are within 2km of one another.
According to LTA, Pair Taxi’s fare model “did not meet the fare-charging conditions stipulated in the regulatory framework”.
The regulatory framework is part of the Third-Party Taxi Booking Service Providers Act. It balances the need for consumer protection and the flexibility needed for innovation in the industry. The act states that all providers with more than 20 participating taxis will need to be registered with the LTA in order to operate in Singapore.
Actually, it’s kind of odd that Pair Taxi’s application wasn’t approved. It’s quite a good idea to get people to “carpool” and share a cab if they’re going in the same direction. In a way, this helps to augment the supply of taxis needed on the road. It’s a win-win situation for passengers and drivers as well.
According to Pair Taxi, a shared ride can be up to 50% cheaper and up to 66% cheaper if shared by 3 parties. For taxi drivers, the longer trip means it is more efficient, and if the driver goes out of the CBD area during peak hour, he or she won’t come back in because of the ERP surcharge.
I find it baffling that the app failed to secure the certificate of registration as it actually helps to make the taxi industry more efficient in meeting the Taxi Availability Standards through innovation.
Even the National Taxi Association has called on the authorities and taxi operators to embrace “new technologies and practices to improve the riding experience of their passengers and matching efficiency of taxi drivers”.
I find it even more baffling, that the reason given for not awarding the certification of registration was that Pair Taxi “did not meet the fare-charging conditions stipulated in the regulatory framework”.