Taxi cameras can now record audio, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Taxi cameras can now record audio

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Audio recordings will help investigations into errant or violent behaviour, say authorities

A year after taxis and private-hire cars were allowed to have inward-facing video cameras, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said yesterday that these devices can also make audio recordings.

In a statement, the LTA cited a March poll of 1,000 residents aged above 15 by government feedback unit Reach, which found 90 per cent were in favour of such recordings.

The authority said having audio "makes the recordings more effective in supporting investigations into inappropriate or violent behaviour as well as fare-related disputes".

This new ruling will come into effect from July 15, along with a change that exempts buses from guidelines on recordings.

In 2013, taxi giant ComfortDelGro installed such cameras in 4,000 of its 16,000 cabs to tackle fare evasion, deter assaults on cabbies and help resolve disputes.

But it never activated the devices - which were built into taxi meters - because of privacy concerns and technical issues.

Mr Ang Hin Kee, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said the cameras will also help in cases where female drivers and passengers complain of unwanted attention inside the cars.

He also said that footage from vehicles could also come in useful for police in any security incidents where perpetrators use taxis and private-hire cars as their mode of transport.

But Mr Ang, who is executive adviser to both the National Taxi Association and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association, added: "I am sceptical that operators will install the cameras voluntarily and the cost will not be passed on to commuters and drivers... I hope to be proven wrong."


Commuter Olivia Choong, 40, said she feels "uncomfortable" about cameras with audio recording but added that there is camera surveillance everywhere anyway.

Commuter Geraldine Lam, 37, welcomes the new move. But she said: "I'm not so confident if the safeguards in place to protect consumers' privacy can be truly enforced."

Singapore University of Social Sciences urban transport expert Park Byung Joon said for tackling fare evasion, the cameras are an overkill. But if they are an added security measure, "I have no problem with that".

ComfortDelGro spokesman Tammy Tan said: "As a taxi operator, we are cognisant of the need to balance concerns for our cabbies' safety with the need to respect our passengers' privacy.

"We are currently reviewing changes to the guidelines and will work with our cabbies to best look after their interests."