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Taxis, private-hire cars want to be part of public transport

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National taxi, private-hire vehicle associations make recommendations for next land transport master plan

Imagine this: An integrated transport app that gives a choice of buses, trains, taxis and private-hire cars, with commuters paying a package price to use a combination of modes for their journeys.

Also seamless transfers, with taxis and private-hire cars making pickups or drop-offs at bus stops.

These were among the recommendations put forth by the National Taxi Association (NTA) and National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) for Singapore's next land transport master plan.

The Government is currently seeking views on how to make mass public transport - what the Land Transport Authority calls "Walk Cycle Ride" - the preferred commuting choice for Singaporeans. Mass public transport includes cabs and private-hire cars.

The NTA and NPHVA said yesterday their proposals "focus on the need to involve chauffeured ride services as part of a seamless and well-connected public transport network for commuters".

"MRT trains and buses are important to developing a well-connected network, but it still needs to be supplemented by chauffeured ride services... This is a better trade-off than having more private vehicles," the associations said.

The NTA and NPHVA said their recommendations for the Land Transport Master Plan (LTMP) 2040 also seek to improve the livelihoods for cabbies and private-hire drivers. The NTA has 18,000 members and the NPHVA has 7,700.

An integrated transport app can help commuters work out the best travel option for each journey, covering all public transport modes.

Bundled packages could be offered for rides across the different modes, regardless of the provider, the associations said.

For this to work, however, the NTA and NPHVA said the Government may need to review the current distance-based fare calculation, to support such an app service.

Also, existing bus lanes and bus stops can be converted into "mobility lanes and mobility stops", which are open to taxis and private-hire vehicles, they suggested.

Cabbies and private-hire drivers should also not be "tied" to any one operator or service. Rather, there can be one app allowing them to get bookings from any operator, they added.

Nanyang Technological University senior research fellow Gopinath Menon said allowing taxis to use bus lanes may not be feasible: "There is already a fairly large number of buses in the lanes during the peak hours. Allowing more vehicles in will impede the buses."

The LTMP advisory panel will discuss feedback from the public, industry players and other stakeholders before making its recommendations next year.