Views divided on call bookings, surge pricing: LTA on feedback for taxi, private-hire operators

Majority in feedback exercise on point-to-point transport want all operators to be licensed

Point-to-point (P2P) transport providers such as taxi and private-hire firms should not lower fares too much to gain market share. They should not jack up fares too much during peak periods. Taxi call bookings should be removed. They should be retained. Taxis and private-hire cars should provide child seats. They should not.

These are some of the varied and often opposing views from a feedback exercise the Land Transport Authority (LTA) conducted to gauge what changes people want to see in P2P services.

Conducted between Jan 24 and Feb 21, the exercise garnered 86 suggestions from the public. Yesterday, the authority released a summary of the feedback it received.

Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said in a Facebook post: "We will share more details of the P2P sector review in the coming months."

The LTA said most respondents wanted all P2P operators to be licensed to ensure greater regulatory oversight and to keep out fly-by-night operators.

Some called for all P2P fares to be regulated so as to prevent operators from artificially lowering prices to gain market share. There were also calls for surge pricing - which sees fares soar during peak periods - to be regulated.

Others called for car-pooling operators to be licensed to ensure that drivers abide by rules related to number of trips and payment.


Respondents also called for "regulatory parity between taxis and private-hire cars, such as aligning the COE and road tax treatment... and removing the 2 per cent cap on taxi fleet growth". Private-hire operators do not have such a cap.

There were also calls for private-hire cars to have a fixed lifespan, like taxis, as well as for private-hire drivers to be at least 30 years old.

Those calling for call bookings to be removed said such a method would not be viable for much longer with the growing popularity of phone apps. Opponents said call bookings must be retained to cater to less tech-savvy consumers.

The majority of respondents want to hold operators accountable for the safety of both drivers and passengers. The LTA said it will "take into account these pieces of feedback as part of our regulatory review and seek to develop a regulatory framework which safeguards commuter and driver interests, while also managing the regulatory costs imposed on operators".

It added: "Our vision is an open P2P sector that will allow new players and different business models to enter the market and provide different P2P solutions for our commuters. This will drive innovation, allowing commuters and drivers to benefit from better service delivery."