Last month, the Land Transport of Authority (LTA) announced that private-hire drivers from companies like Uber and Grab would be required to obtain a vocational license.
This was the Government’s attempt to ‘level the playing field’ since drivers from these companies were not bound by the regulations that taxi drivers are.
In an update to this announcement, LTA said that the applications for the Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational License (PDVL) will open on March 13 2017.
Besides having to obtain a PDVL, private hire car drivers will also be required to display a tamper-evident decal on the front and back windscreens of their private hire cars from 1 July 2017.
This will facilitate enforcement against unregistered cars providing private hire car services, and private hire cars that commit offences such as picking up passengers via street-hailing.
What’s The Eligibility Criteria?
Drivers who wish to provide private hire car services are to send in an application form to LTA by June 30 2017, and a non-refundable $40 application fee will be imposed.
Applicants must hold a Class 3/3A driving licence which has been valid for a continuous period of at least two years at the point of applying for the PDVL.
All applicants are also required to undergo a medical examination, and will be subject to background checks.
Applicants who are not Singapore citizens, such as Singapore Permanent Residents and Foreign Work Pass holders, must be employees of a company providing chauffeured services in order to be eligible for the PDVL.
As for Singapore citizens, the current policy is that if they are not driving as employees, they need to be registered owners of a chauffeured services business. This will no longer be required – Singapore Citizens can now apply for a PDVL as a self-employed driver.
Once LTA has received and processed the application, applicants will be notified to register for the 10-hour PDVL course with the Singapore Taxi Academy.
Drivers employed by traditional chauffeured services companies may be exempted from the PDVL course if their companies’ in-house training programmes meet LTA’s requirements.
To ease the transition to the new vocational licensing regime, private hire car drivers whose applications reach LTA by 30 June 2017 will have up to one year to attend and pass the PDVL course. During this one-year transitional period, they can continue providing private hire car services.
However, applicants whose applications reach LTA after 30 June 2017 must obtain a PDVL before they can provide private hire car services.
Grab Pumps In $10 Million
In response to the PDVL framework, Grab announced yesterday a new $10 million investment in the GrabCar private hire car segment for Singapore.
The investment covers end-to-end support for new and existing GrabCar drivers.
To assist GrabCar drivers in obtaining PDVL licenses quickly and seamlessly, Grab is helping to defray all PDVL-related charges including the PDVL application fee, medical checkups, as well as training and test fees.
Its online PDVL application portal will also facilitate the application process, and Grab will share regular updates with drivers and notify them of their application status.
Since many new drivers would require time and more support to learn how to achieve a sustainable income, Grab has also established a Road Stars programme to rapidly build a driver support network for the longer term.
Road Stars pairs up to two experienced drivers with new drivers in teams of five to earn $2 million worth of prizes. The main programme is based on points awarded for completed GrabCar and GrabShare rides for a prize money of $50,000 with a series of mini games for drivers to earn additional points and immediate cash prizes.
“We are experimenting with a new approach to gamify the driver experience to help onboard and build a closely-knit Grab community of drivers. Road Stars helps to bring new and experienced drivers together and share the best ways to earn higher incomes and better serve passengers consistently,” said Lim Kell Jay, Head of Grab Singapore.
He added that Grab intends to replicate this driver programme in more cities if its successful.
Additionally, Grab also encourages its driver-partners to regularly contribute to their MediSave account to better plan for their future through the GrabCar MediSave Programme.
The programme matches a percentage of a driver’s earned incentives, subject to a driver’s own contribution to the individual’s MediSave account and a maximum monthly cap of $200. This is open to all GrabCar drivers who are exclusive to the Grab platform.
“We are making this $10 million investment to assist and train our GrabCar drivers. We believe the focus Grab places in helping our drivers succeed in earning a sustainable income and have a peace of mind with better care for their medical needs will make driving a long term sustainable option for more in Singapore,” said Lim.
Uber Launches ‘FastLane Programme’
Uber’s initiatives in response to the PDVL framework is pretty similar to Grab.
Uber is also helping its drivers with the application process with the introduction of the FastLane programme, which is an ‘express pass’ for drivers to get their PDVL quickly, simply, and at zero cost.
Typically, the application process for the PDVL takes around 4 to 6 weeks if drivers apply independently; but with the FastLane, drivers get to enjoy faster processing times of just 2 to 3 weeks.
Registering for the programme will also help drivers receive an extension until June 30 2018 to continue driving with Uber before needing to obtain the PDVL certification.
Uber drivers who register by June 30 2017 will be entitled to an Early Bird Bonus, which includes an all-in coverage and support.
The total cost to apply for the PDVL is $350 (see breakdown below), but the FastLane programme allows drivers to enjoy free sign-up.
These drivers will also gain access to an exclusive range of benefits such as free medical check-up at Raffles Medical clinics, flexible PDVL training with weekend sessions, and round-the-clock support via phone and WhatsApp.
Featured Image Credit: Goliath