The internet are full of comments and articles about Uber and Grab Car versus Taxis
Some call it a service innovation, a breath of fresh air and the inevitable
Others call them thieves, bandits and a rip off.
In neighbouring cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, the introduction of these private hire cars has caused multiple conflicts with the local taxi drivers.
Their government promised to look at the issue but often took a little too long deciding what to do with this latest phenomenon
As a result, it became inevitable that the commuters chose Uber and Grab car over the local taxi drivers. They feel safe and the prices are transparent (hence cheaper)
Thousands of cabbies took their protest to the streets, calling a ban on Uber and Grab. The more extreme ones went on and harass Uber/Grab car drivers and threaten them with bodily harm.
We were lucky that taxis in Singapore did not go on a similar strike.
But the reason was far from the fact that taxi drivers in Singapore were unaffected. Our taxi uncles too had made their dissatisfaction known to the government and labour unions over alleged unfair regulations imposed on taxis by the government. (its drivers do not require a vocational licence as they drive private hire cars)
The difference with the government in Singapore (as compared to others) was that our Transport Minister took heed and quickly took steps to address this issue
“We must not resist new innovations and new business models. Our instinct must be to flow with the time, keep an open mind to innovations.”
“But we must always be fair to players, whether incumbent or insurgents, and strike a balanced approach.”
Thank god I thought to myself.
No more being held hostage by the taxi companies that seems to disappear during peak hours or refuse to accept cashless payments.
Instead of banning Uber and Grab to protect the local taxi uncles, our Minister welcomed the competition and levelled the playing field
Private chauffeur drivers operating under apps such as Uber and Grab will be regulated in Singapore, to safeguard commuters’ interest.
Like taxi drivers, they will be subject to medical tests and background screenings, have to attend a vocational licence course, and be put under a demerit point system.
Private-hire cars used for bookings under Uber and Grab will also have to be registered with the Land Transport Authority (LTA), and the vehicles must display a tamper-evident decal, so commuters and authorities can easily identify them.
It will be a win-win situation for all.
It would have been even better if the Minister also announced the timeline in which all these will be implemented. (this will be the next step forward)
The way in which the Uber/Grab car phenomenon was handled has renewed my faith in the capability of my government.
And this is why I (along with the local taxi drivers) am lucky to be a Singapore citizen.