Next year we will see a new licensing framework for private-hire drivers and there will also be changes to the Taxi Driver Vocational License (TDVL) system, as announced by Ng Chee Meng, the Senior Minister of State for Transport of Singapore. These changes are a result of the increase of taxi drivers due to transportation apps.
Many taxi drivers now take booking through apps. Pre booked taxi trips have shown a rapid increase of 50% in the last three years alone. And this rise is attributed to the rise of apps for booking cabs. The apps have made the system of booking a cab or a private car very fast and efficient. More and more people are starting to use these services for commuting. This has also augmented the earnings of taxi drivers. And since the earning has increased, the number of people joining this profession has seen a remarkable increase as well. According to Mr. Ng around 10,000 drivers are providing taxi and private cars during the rush hours.
This has raised the question of better measures for the safety and well-being of commuters. And in light of these taxi apps and limousine services, there will be a new framework called Private Hire Car Driver Vocational Licensing (PDVL). This will ensure that the drivers working with apps like Uber or Grab have sufficient training about regulations and safety. This will also involve a background check as well as a demerit point system called the Vocational License Points System.
The first step would be to have the applicants take a medical examination to see whether they are fit to drive. They have to be employed at a limousine service or bus charter or owner of a registered private hire car company. Another condition for these drivers is that they should have driven for at least two years in order to apply for this licensing test. Additionally, they will be required to take a 10 hour PDVL training course. The course will be retaken every six years though for a shorter duration of 3 hours. But there will be exemptions for drivers with no demerit points and drivers working with limousine companies who have rigorous training standards.
In addition to this new system, the current TDVL will be updated as well because many taxi drivers have expressed concerns about the current system and have asked for changes. The changes will be made to the TDVL training course. It will include adequate training for using GPS. The course which is currently 60 hours long will be reduced to a more rigorous 25 hours. The refresher course will be shortened to a 3 to 5 hours from the current 6 to 9 hours requirement. Just like the PDVL, drivers with no demerit points will not be required to take this refresher course every six years.
Those drivers who already have TDVL can apply for PDVL too and their training will only include a two briefing about the standards of modern chauffeuring services. All these steps have been taken to improve the taxi and private hire drivers’ skills and make the whole business safer for commuters.