Shaping Singapore’s Future Land Transport

transport

The Land Transport Master Plan 2040 (LTMP 2040) should actively involve chauffeured services to complement a seamless and well-connected public transport network for commuters. It should also be pro-innovation and help build a pro-driver working environment.

These were the broad recommendations to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) submitted by the National Taxi Association (NTA) and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) on 19 December 2018.

LTA had recently launched a public engagement initiative to seek views and ideas from members of the public, transport industry players and other stakeholders for the LTMP 2040.

The master plan will be used to help shape Singapore’s land transport into 2040, according to LTA.

More flexible transportation options

According to NTA and NPHVA, there will be a need for more flexible or shorter transportation options given Singapore’s changing demographics, evolving workforce profile and the decentralisation of workplaces.

The associations said the future public transport network should also accommodate the needs of the ageing population and the growing childcare demand.

The rise of the gig economy could also potentially call for the need for more flexible options in order for freelancers to travel to multiple work locations.

With these in mind, the NTA and NPHVA recommended the following for commuters:

(a) Provide commuters with an integrated transport app, supported with bundled service packages
  • The app would help commuters work out the best travel option for each journey, covering all modes of public transport, including taxi and private hire services from any brands and operators.
  • Bundled service packages could be offered for varying number of rides across all public transport options, regardless of brands and operators.
  • Government to review current distance-based fare structure to support such an initiative and provide new fare options.
(b) Provide better WIFI coverage and co-working spaces at integrated transport hubs to promote work mobility
  • Government to take on greater responsibility in infrastructure development and regulatory sandbox to pilot schemes to provide better data connectivity or wifi coverage.
  • Review transport infrastructure to provide co-working spaces to promote work mobility.
(c) Enable smoother transfers between public transport modes
  • Transform current bus lanes or bus stops into mobility lanes and mobility stops for all public transport modes – allowing taxi drivers or private hire drivers to pick up or drop off passengers so that the latter can continue with their next leg of journey faster and more conveniently.
(d) Ensure consumers are served by drivers who are updated with technology changes in the industry
  • Create a clearer technology roadmap for chauffeured ride service drivers.
  • Train drivers to adopt the necessary technology accordingly.
(e) Ensure availability of services that cater to the less-niche commuter segments
  • Accelerate adoption of on-demand public transportation to cater for point-to-point service required at non-peak travel timings and for commuters with special needs e.g. commuters in wheelchairs.

Building a Pro-Driver Environment

NTA and NPHVA also recommended that operators be more pro-innovation and leverage technology as well as enhance the work environment for drivers.

According to the associations, public transport regulations place emphasis on taxi and ride hailing operators complying with standards. These standards are turned into internal guidelines for drivers who are subjected to penalties if they fail to meet the guidelines.

NTA and NPHVA made the following recommendations for drivers:

(a) Review regulations
  • LTA should review current regulations that are obsolete, such as Taxi Availability or Call Booking Standards. Currently, taxi operators invest in systems to adhere to these regulations and drivers are penalised if they do not meet these standards. Today, as passengers can already provide feedback through user reviews and have better matching with ride-hailing apps, the Taxi Availability or Call Booking Standards are no longer relevant. Thus, resources can instead be channeled to leveraging technology to ensure supply of vehicles and service standards of drivers.
  • In the event of disputes, private hire drivers currently are not able to approach LTA for pre-mediation services. Pre-mediation services should be extended to private hire drivers to better protect them.
(b) Create more revenue streams and less empty-cruising for drivers
  • Actively promote ride service drivers to provide bespoke services such as delivery services.
  • Taxi and private hire drivers should not be tied to any specific operator for jobs allocation. They can instead subscribe to just one single app that allows them to get jobs from any operator. One possible avenue is to revamp the LTA Taxi-Taxi@SG app which drivers are already using, to incorporate the Drivers Guidance System jointly developed by the research team from the Singapore Management University with other partners. Based on real time supply and demand patterns, the app provides drivers with recommendations on where to go for the highest probability of finding a passenger. This application has led to shorter waiting time and lesser empty cruising for drivers over the last year.

NTA and NPHVA Executive Advisor Ang Hin Kee said: “We feel that a robust public transport system supported by a sustainable supply of chauffeured ride service drivers is required to meet the future transport needs of Singapore. It is timely that we fully leverage new technology like mobility as a service to ensure that we can keep up with the changes. What is more important is that we ensure that our taxi and private hire vehicle drivers are trained with the necessary expertise to operate and provide good services in the future transport landscape.

“We hope that our recommendations will help make the Land Transport Master Plan 2040 a more inclusive one, allowing easy access to public transport for commuters and providing a sustainable livelihood for our taxi and private hire vehicle drivers.”

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