Dear ASS Editors,

Singapore Government should consider nationalizing the taxis like how we nationalized the bus/mrt not long ago. Assets and Infrastructure owned by the government, and then left for private companies to bid for operation rights, very much like how our current public bus structure works. This will end any “price war” between Grab/Uber and the traditional taxi companies.

How it works:
1) Government owned taxis and infrastructure will reduce operational costs severely, as the government won’t charge themselves COE, taxes, rents, etc. Instead of it costing 100K for a ONE taxi to even be on the road, it should costs much less, even as low as 30k or below if the government went and bought in bulk from the car manufacturer and didn’t need to pay additional taxes etc.

2) Government can choose a car manufacture to be their main supplier, for example, BYD, and it can set up charging and service stations for the taxis.

3) Current taxi companies will be offered priority for initial bidding. They can start with a small fleet and based on performance, the government or a body that regulates will decide which companies get to have more vehicles. There won’t be an oversupply of taxis because taxis can ONLY be bought and put on the road by the government themselves.

4) Each taxi company can decide their own structure, how to pay the drivers, rent based, profit sharing based, fixed salary based, etc.

5) New taxis will use Uber/Grab for fixed rate jobs, but will also be able to pick up people from flag downs at metered rates. It will pay uber/grab 10% instead of 20%.

6) The lower cost of operations should allow the flag down metered rate itself to be lowered to compete with Grab/Uber.

7) Government may set up their own app as well, only for these new taxis.

Why this will be better.

1) Compared to Private Hire Vehicles, Taxis will be cheaper to operate, cost the same to consumers, and offer better earnings for the drivers.

2) Strict regulations for drivers will ensure that Taxis have the most experienced/mature drivers compared to Private Hire, and it should be a step up for a Private Hire Driver to one day qualify to be a full time taxi driver. There could also be a shortcut to qualify to be a taxi driver after having 2 years’ experience as a private hire driver.

3) Strict regulations on the vehicles can ensure we use green, energy efficient technology. Despite lacking the charging infrastructure currently at a wide scale, the infrastructure can be put in place by the government/operators themselves due to the high demand for it now that all our taxis (and possibly even buses in the future) require it.

4) This allows private hire drivers and taxi drivers to coexist peacefully with the clear benefits going to full time taxi drivers with their lower operating costs. If one decides to be a full time driver, the taxi path would be better and more lucrative for them, but if one decides to be a part timer, the private hire vehicle path will be better. Win/Win.

It’s very important to take note of the advantages Grab and Uber has brought to our Island. Not only the low prices for the consumers, but with anyone with a car potentially being able to be a part time driver, this helps alleviate traffic. This technology should be celebrated. Taxis should be part of the revolution, In Singapore, that revolution must come from the government as operating costs are directly tied to government regulation.

A.S.S. Contributor

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