Private-Hire Operators May Soon Get Licence to Provide Street-Hailing Rides

Published by on . Updated on 18 May 2020

grabcars(Photo Credit: Vulcan Post)

Private-Hire vehicles can soon get hailed down by the side of the road if operators like Grab and Go-Jek apply for a licence or partner a taxi company.

Called the Street Hail Service Operator Licence (SSOL), its licensees are allowed to provide street-hailing services.

In its ongoing review of the taxi and private-hire industry, the Land Transport Authority (LTA), following a public consultation, has proposed two respective licences for street-hail and ride-hail businesses. The latter oversees phone or app-booked rides.

In its consultation paper, LTA said that, “similar to the taxi operator regulations today, SSOL licensees will have to own their vehicles and maintain a minimum fleet size,” adding that, “LTA is also studying the possibility of lowering the minimum fleet size required."

Currently, street hails make up 70% of all 650,000 taxi trips in Singapore.

Since the Grab-Uber merger, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore has outlawed exclusivity clauses, which means drivers can drive for any operator or use any app they wish. With this new licence, experts predict that the lines separating taxis and private-hire companies to slowly fade away.

When asked to comment, Grab said that it does not have a street-hail option currently in the works.

However, a spokesperson for Go-Jek took a different route and said, “I think it's a bit early for us to comment on something like this, but we're always open to exploring how we can grow our service offering, particularly if it's useful for users."

In other Private-Hire related news, the competition between firms appears to be heating up with some firms bringing in European cars to join their fleet.

In a bid to draw new drivers, some firms have been placing orders for hundreds of BMW, Opel and Renaults in recent weeks.

The Straits Times reported that it had learnt of at least 200 BMW 2-Series MPVs will be supplied by BMW authorised agent Performance Motors, and 1,000 Opel Insignia sedans (both petrol and diesel variants) will be supplied by Opel authorised agent Auto Germany.

This is despite the market still flooded with unused Private-Hire cars. Hundreds of these are still parked in carparks of places like Singapore Sports Hub and Carros Centre, majority of which were left behind by Uber.

Industry experts place the number of unused cars in the private-hire fleet at over 2,000.

The last time we touched on this topic in September last year, around 10,000 cars were estimated to be leftover and unused by the industry.

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