Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Singapore, the Point-to-Point (P2P) transport sector has been significantly affected by the pandemic. The Government therefore introduced the P2P Support Package (PPSP) in February 2020 to provide targeted assistance to the P2P sector and its drivers. A second tranche of the PPSP was announced in March 2020. As the economy gradually reopens, LTA has been engaging drivers, operators, the National Taxi Association (NTA) and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) to better understand the situation on the ground, and to help allay some of their concerns and challenges.
2 Many taxi and private hire car (PHC) drivers are understandably concerned about their livelihoods. While the resumption of some activities in Phase Two has increased the demand for taxis and PHCs, ridership remains significantly lower (around 70%) and trips are shorter, resulting in lower fares per trip, compared to pre-COVID levels. P2P ridership is unlikely to return to pre-COVID levels in the near term. Many employees are expected to continue with work-from-home arrangements, tourism activities remain muted and the current poor economic conditions means that more people will be tightening their belts and spending less.
3 After extensive consultations with the key stakeholders, the Government will set aside an additional $112 million to extend the PPSP to provide further support for the P2P sector. Senior Minister of State (Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment) Dr Amy Khor said, “This package of relief measures will further help to support our drivers and operators through this difficult period and mitigate some of their concerns and challenges.”
Support for P2P drivers
Six-month extension of the Special Relief Fund (SRF)
4 Of the $112 million, $106 million will go towards a six-month extension of the Special Relief Fund (SRF) to March 2021. The SRF, which started in February, helps active taxi and PHC drivers defray business costs by providing monthly payouts of $300 per vehicle per month (i.e. $10 per day). Drivers who are currently receiving SRF payouts will continue to receive SRF payouts during the extended period. Over 40,000 P2P drivers are expected to qualify for the extended SRF. Taxi operators have also pledged to continue providing matching rental rebates worth an additional $29 million to their hirers.
P2P deliveries to supplement drivers' incomes
5 In March this year, the Government announced a temporary liberalisation of P2P regulations to allow the use of taxis and PHCs for delivery services. This has provided drivers with an additional source of income while helping to fulfil the surge in demand for delivery services. Taxi and PHC drivers have also shared that this has helped them and have asked that the scheme be continued. In view of the benefit to drivers and the community, the Government will extend the liberalised regulations so that P2P deliveries can be carried out for another year until end September 2021.
Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational Licence (PDVL) eligibility criteria
6 To ensure that the P2P sector continues to be sustainable, LTA has had several rounds of consultations with industry stakeholders and associations to review the eligibility criteria for the PDVL. Given the growing similarities between taxi and PHC services, the eligibility criteria for both forms of vocational licences should be aligned.
7 All new PDVL applicants must be Singapore Citizens who are at least 30 years old at the point of application, with a minimum of one year of driving experience. These revisions serve to fully align the eligibility criteria for the PDVL and TDVL. All PDVL applications received before 5.30pm on 15 September 2020 will continue to be processed under the previous eligibility criteria.
8 Existing PDVL holders who are below 30 years old or are Singapore Permanent Residents will not be affected under this new rule. The proportion of PHC drivers below 30 years old is small and PHC operators have shared that the majority of them are driving part-time. They will be able to continue providing PHC services so long as they renew their PDVLs before expiry.
Support for P2P operators
9 Beyond the relief measures provided by the Government, P2P operators have also extended various forms of support to their drivers during this difficult period, through commission rebates and rental waivers/discounts, including full rental waivers by some operators during the Circuit Breaker period. We acknowledge operators’ efforts in this area and strongly encourage operators to continue to pass on savings from the following additional relief measures which the government is providing to their drivers:
a) Extension of Special Relief for Unhired Taxis
In March, LTA announced a special relief of $2,200 per unhired taxi over a six-month period to help taxi operators defray the cost of their unhired fleet. LTA will extend this unhired relief for a further six months to March 2021 at an estimated cost of $4.6 million.
b) Extension of Licence Fee Waiver
LTA will also extend the previously-announced nine-month operator licence fee waiver by a further three months, at a cost of about $1.2 million.
10 We would like to thank all partners and stakeholders for working closely with LTA to ensure the sustainability of the P2P sector during this difficult period.