Third-party taxi booking services facilitate more efficient matching of taxis with commuters and have become increasingly popular. To safeguard commuter safety and interests, LTA will introduce a basic regulatory framework, which is expected to come into effect by the second quarter of 2015. LTA has consulted commuters, the National Taxi Association (NTA), third-party taxi booking services and taxi companies extensively over the past year on the regulatory framework.
2. Under this framework, all third-party taxi booking services will be required to comply with the following conditions:
- Registration of services with LTA
All third-party taxi booking services are required to register with LTA to operate in Singapore. Successful applicants will be granted a certificate of registration valid for three years.
- Dispatch only licensed taxis and drivers holding valid Taxi Driver’s Vocational Licences
This ensures that commuters are served by taxis and taxi drivers who are operating legally in Singapore, i.e. they are regulated under LTA’s Taxi Quality of Service (QoS) and the Taxi Driver’s Vocational Licence (TDVL) regulatory frameworks.
- Fare-related safeguards for commuters
All information on the fare rates, surcharges and fees payable for the journey must be specified to commuters upfront, before commuters accept the dispatched taxi. These include the flag-down fare, distance and time rates, the booking fee charged by the service provider, and where applicable, peak period and location surcharges. Alternatively, third-party taxi booking services can provide commuters with the option to set their user preferences to automatically reject certain types of taxis or taxis with certain fare rates and surcharges.
To ensure that taxi services remain equally accessible to all members of the public, bidding and pre-trip tipping for taxi services will not be allowed. In addition, the booking fees charged by third-party taxi booking services cannot exceed the booking fees charged by taxi companies.
- Taxi booking services cannot require commuters to specify their destinations before they can make bookings
While the taxi industry has shared that knowing prospective passengers’ destinations can encourage drivers to accept bookings, there are concerns that some taxi drivers may choose their passengers and avoid taking bookings to certain destinations. LTA has thus decided that it should be left to commuters to decide if they want to provide this information.
- Customer support services for commuters
Third-party taxi booking services will be required to provide basic customer support services, which include lost and found services and avenues for commuters to raise queries and complaints.
3. While the regulations are expected to be implemented only in the second quarter of 2015 after the necessary legislative processes are completed, taxi booking services and taxi companies are encouraged to begin their preparations to comply with these regulations.