The playing field between taxis and ride-hailing services such as Uber and Grab is “not quite level”, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday during the annual National Day Rally speech, adding that the Government will look further into this.
“But then I remind the taxi drivers – you also enjoy some advantages. As drivers told me, they can ‘sweep the floor’… that means you can pick up from the kerb. Uber and Grab cannot,” he added.
Mr Lee said moves towards creating a level playing field are being done, by updating rules to foster fair competition, while protecting commuters, and requiring drivers – whether cabbies or those under Uber or Grab – to have proper insurance and clean records.
In April, new regulations were announced, requiring Uber and Grab drivers to obtain a vocational licence by the first half of next year. Cars used for private hire must also be registered and be marked with a decal for easy identification.
Noting that cabbies in cities such as London, Sydney and Jakarta have staged protests seeking the blockage of these new services, Mr Lee said Singapore could close itself off, ban Uber and Grab, and impose restrictions to protect the “old ways”.
“But we will be left behind and our commuters will lose out, and our economy will suffer. The other way is to embrace change, let the disruption happen… but help the incumbents, and especially help the taxi drivers, to adapt to the changes.”
“Change is fast and relentless. Disruption will happen over and over again,”
Every industry is getting disrupted in its own way and in order to be able to spot changes and to prepare workers to do different and new jobs, Mr Lee said that the Committee on the Future Economy (CFE) is tasked to do just that: Build new capabilities, promote entrepreneurship and develop skills.
Mr Lee said: “Even Uber and Grab are going to be disrupted, and the next round may be no drivers – driverless cars running a taxi service.” Next year, Singapore will start a trial of driverless taxis in one-north.
As society progresses rapidly, there will be an increasing number of facets in the private hire market. Whilst dominated by big brand names Uber and Grabcar, we could soon be witnessing a revolutionary change where driverless cars take precedence.
What do our readers think? Should the government do more to reduce the speed at which the private hire market is evolving, before it’s too late? Or should we embrace change and adapt to these progressions in the market?
Source: Straits Times