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LTA open to trial for taxi, private-hire drivers to do deliveries without passengers

SINGAPORE — Amid repeated calls for a review of rules barring taxi and private-hire car drivers from delivering goods without a passenger on board, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said on Monday (Sept 10) that the authorities will work with operators to discuss allowing their drivers to perform courier services on a limited trial basis.

LTA open to trial for taxi, private-hire drivers to do deliveries without passengers

A Ministry of Transport spokesperson said that private hire operators have been informed that they may approach LTA to discuss the possibility of such a trial.

SINGAPORE — Amid repeated calls for a review of rules barring taxi and private-hire car drivers from delivering goods without a passenger on board, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary said on Monday (Sept 10) that the authorities will work with operators to discuss allowing their drivers to perform courier services on a limited trial basis.

This comes on the heels of the Land Transport Authority (LTA) issuing a warning to ride-hailing firm Ryde, which last month announced plans to roll out RydeSend — a peer-to-peer, on-demand courier service using its pool of 60,000 private-hire and non-commercial drivers.

Responding to a parliamentary question from Mr Ang Hin Kee, Member of Parliament (MP) for Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency (GRC), Dr Janil said that the LTA would work with the operators to “assess the feasibility of a trial, how it should be scoped to ensure minimal impact on P2P (peer-to-peer) availability, as well as the conditions necessary to safeguard commuter interests”.

Responding to TODAY's queries, a Ministry of Transport spokesperson said that operators have been informed that they may approach LTA to discuss the possibility of such a trial.

Mr Ang, who is also executive advisor to the National Taxi Association and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association, said that the announcement was a positive move, which “in a way offers a regulatory sandbox option”.

Speaking to TODAY, he noted that taxi and private-hire car drivers find it “really tough” to get passengers during non-peak hours, resulting in less earnings during these periods. “Courier services for small parcels will (supplement) incomes,” he added.

When contacted, a Ryde spokesperson said the company will be submitting a proposal for RydeSend to the LTA by the end of the week. 

A Grab spokesperson said it is supportive of the new trial that will better utilise existing vehicles while allowing drivers to earn supplementary income. Grab is discussing with the LTA "the best way to take the trial forward", she said.

Last month, the LTA said that RydeSend would violate regulations prohibiting public service vehicles such as taxis and private-hire cars from solely conveying goods. Drivers found breaking these rules could have their vocational licences revoked.

The issue of private-hire and taxi drivers doing deliveries had initially surfaced last year, when Amazon Prime engaged ComfortDelGro taxis and Uber drivers to make deliveries. ComfortDelGro confirmed then that its drivers had taken delivery jobs, but maintained that there was a passenger to accompany the delivery items.

On Monday, Dr Janil said the LTA had not found any drivers violating these rules so far.

“LTA will actively enforce against such offences and will not hesitate to take firm action against the perpetrators,” he added.

TODAY has reached out to the taxi operators for comment.

Separately, the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill — which was introduced in Parliament on Monday — would among other things allow private-hire car drivers to claim tax deductions for expenses. If the Bill is passed, both private-hire and taxi drivers will no longer need to file tax claims separately for service fees paid to platform providers such as Grab and Ryde. The Bill takes into account 37 suggestions by the public on proposed amendments to the Act.

 

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