SINGAPORE: The National Taxi Association said on Sunday that the minimum standards for taxi availability, which kicked in this year, have resulted in shorter waiting times for commuters in the city area.
Its advisor, Ang Hin Kee, said freeing up restrictions within the Central Business District have meant shorter queues at taxi stands.
However, he added that the new guidelines have also led to some concerns among cabbies that they would have to bear penalties imposed on operators for not meeting these standards.
Mr Ang gave the update after meeting some 600 taxi drivers at Changi Airport on Sunday morning.
Since January, cab companies have to meet new standards for taxi availability.
They include requiring 70 per cent of all taxis per cab company to reach a minimum daily mileage of 250 kilometres. This translates to about eight to nine hours on the road per day, five days a week.
Cab companies will also need to ensure that 70 per cent of their entire fleet are on the roads during the morning and evening peak periods.
The bars will be raised to 80 per cent next year and 85 per cent by 2015 for both the minimum daily mileage and peak hour availability.
Based on these indicators, authorities will evaluate whether to allow the taxi companies to expand their fleet.
Mr Ang said some drivers experienced empty cruising in order to fulfil the indicators because there are not many relief drivers available.
He added that elderly drivers have also expressed some pressure in meeting the taxi availability indicators.
Mr Ang said these drivers would need time to re—adjust their driving habits.
And even as the Land Transport Authority reviews the scheme in six months, Mr Ang said more can be done to enhance the availability of relief drivers.
He added: "That is to encourage all new taxi licence holders, those who have never driven before, who just recently got their license, that they should serve as a relief driver for at least a year or two.
"That would provide them both the experience and lessen their pressure from having to hire a vehicle on their own. On the other (hand), it will also increase taxi availability because each cab will now certainly find it easier to have two drivers to ply the roads."
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