A driver for the Uber Technologies Inc. ride-hailing service uses the company’s app on a smartphone in an arranged photograph in Singapore. (Photographer: Ore Huiying/Bloomberg)  

Singapore Proposes Stricter Rules for Ride-Hailing Operators

(Bloomberg) -- Singapore is proposing to step up regulation of ride-hailing companies such as Grab and Go-Jek, bringing rules for the services in line with taxi operators in a bid to better protect the safety of commuters and drivers.

The city-state’s regulators asked for public comment on the subject through Feb. 21 because of the gaps in how street-hailing and ride-hailing services are managed, according to a statement. Both taxi companies and ride-hailing firms “provide the same fundamental service of transporting commuters from point to point,” the Land Transport Authority said. Under current rules, taxi operators are required to be licensed, while ride-hailing companies are not.

“Passengers should get a sense of security whether they step into a licensed taxi or a Grab or Go-Jek vehicle,” said Song Seng Wun, an economist at CIMB Private Banking in Singapore. “Having heard so many horrendous stories about incidents, safety is the most important thing. So this is a timely move.”

The new framework comes more than five years after ride-hailing apps such as Grab gained popularity in Singapore. The new rules also include barring exclusivity arrangements for all ride-hailing firms that prevent their drivers from working for other operators.

As of Nov. 1, there were 37,000 private-hire car driver license holders in Singapore. The city used to require 60 hours of training for taxi drivers to earn a vocational license. That’s now 25, compared with a 10-hour course required for private-hire car drivers.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.