3rd party booking apps have lately become the backbone of the taxi industry, with many people choosing to turn to their smartphones to get a cab rather than flagging one down directly. So when LTA revealed that they are implementing regulations in the 2nd quarter of 2015 to our favourite third party taxi apps like GrabTaxi, EasyTaxi, and Uber, the first thing on our minds is definitely – what does this mean for the apps we use?
If you’re curious, here are the 5 ways these regulations will affect your apps.
1. Rest Assured, Your Cab Drivers Are Legit.
With LTA’s new restrictions, drivers under 3rd party taxi apps will be have to hold a Taxi Driver’s Vocational License, and the apps will have to register with the LTA. With most of the drivers using the apps already from one of the many taxi services in Singapore, this should not change anything, except to add to the driver’s administrative work probably.
2. No More Taxi Fare Shock
As part of the new regulations, taxi apps will have to show all the surcharges and fees payable before the commuters accepts the taxi. The booking fees also are not allowed to be higher than that charged by taxi companies, which means that we may be in for a (slightly) cheaper cab ride, with absolutely zero chance of price shock.
As for private cars, 3rd party apps will be required to differentiate their services from the taxi services (which are already done) and highlight charges “upfront and clearly”.
3. You Don’t Need To Know Where You’re Going
This would give passengers the freedom to board a taxi whether or not they have a destination address in mind. However, this won’t actually change anything. People will likely have a destination in mind already, and its much easier to let the cab driver route the path on his in-app GPS. If cab drivers prefer to have someone with a destination address, they could just avoid bidding for passengers without one.
For apps like Grabtaxi and Easytaxi that already make destinations a necessity in all bookings, it may require a tweaking of the app, but nothing more.
4. More Customer Service
All 3rd party apps will need to have more customer services, like lost-and-found services and platforms for enquiries or complaints. Currently, support services like lost-and-found services are supported mainly by the taxi services themselves, which begs the question – if I lose my wallet on a comfort cab I called from GrabTaxi, do I contact GrabTaxi or Comfort?
Existential questions aside, regulations supporting more customer services is definitely nothing to complain about. All 3rd party booking apps already come with a review service and support emails for complaints or enquiries, but with the new regulations in place, these services will probably be improved to ensure support for all app users.. This implementation would probably need more fine-tuning, but it’s clear that us users will not be affected much by these changes (except positively).
5. More Recognition
So far, these changes technically don’t change the way we use any of our favourite apps (except no. 3), which is a relief. But what these regulations ultimately means is that 3rd party taxi apps will be receiving the first regulatory nod to operate in Singapore’s booming taxi industry since their introduction.
Unlike our Southeast Asian counterparts, who are still thick in the debate over Uber’s operations, Singapore has started to draw the lines, and our favourite transport apps are comfortably settled within them.
Uber Singapore has responded favourably to these changes, with Mike Brown, Regional General Manager, Southeast Asia, Uber Technologies, saying, “Uber welcomes the LTAs announcement to introduce a new regulatory framework for 3rd party taxi booking apps; this is great news for residents and visitors to Singapore and especially for taxi drivers. We appreciate that the LTA has acknowledged the benefits our technology brings, and like Uber, is putting the interest and safety of consumers and drivers first.”
GrabTaxi VP of marketing Cheryl Goh also said to TechinAsia, “We believe that these regulations are a progressive development and a step in the right direction. Third party booking apps are now formally acknowledged as a legitimate service that helps commuters. We are committed to continue working closely with the authorities to help improve Singapore’s public transportation system.”
Looks like we may be ushering in the golden age of taxi booking apps to Singapore.