Speech by Mr. Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC at the Second Reading of the Point-to-Point Passenger Transport Industry Bill (Bill No. 14/2019)
Sir, I stand in support of the Point-to-Point Passenger Transport Industry Bill. I welcome the proposed initiatives to level the playing field and make the industry more contestable.
Both consumers and drivers stand to benefit from more clarity and uniformity in how the rules are applied for street-hail and ride-hail services.
I would like to raise some clarifications and recommendations.
Codes of practice
I welcome the introduction of codes of practice across the industry. Standardisation is welcomed as it levels the playing field. I would like to query about LTA’s process of drafting these codes of practice, and to stress the importance of having an inclusive and consultative process.
Can the Ministry shed light on the process of developing the codes of practice? While sections 30(2), 30(3), and 30(4) suggest some possible areas that the codes of practice might cover, we do not know how specific or prescriptive the codes will be.
I hope that LTA will conduct thorough stakeholder consultation when drafting these codes of practice. It is important to engage key stakeholders, such as industry partners, in the consultation process to ensure that the codes of practice do not hinder innovation and market forces.
Next, in line with the aim of the Bill to safeguard consumer interest, I hope we can adopt the international best practices of having an emergency alarm service button in the vehicle and tracking real-time locations.
This is a feature that is already available for some ride-hail services through the mobile application. For instance, Grab riders are able to request assistance or notify up to three emergency contacts with an in-app Emergency button. Riders who tap on the button will receive a call from a security company and unanswered calls may be escalated to the police. Leading ride-hailing platforms such as Uber and Didichuxing also have them too.
We can make 24/7 emergency alarm service buttons, which are linked to local authorities mandatory for all point-to-point passenger services. This could be a feature available to both drivers and passengers in the event they face a security threat. Will the Ministry consider piloting this feature for some street-hail and ride-hail services?
I also recommend that we require that both street-hail and ride-hail services to have child safety seats.
It is currently illegal for private cars, including ride-hail services, to ferry children under 1.35m without a child restraint appropriate for the child’s height and weight, a booster seat to supplement the seat belt, or an approved adjustable seat belt.
Oddly, the street-hail services are exempt from this requirement.
A Toyota Vios is a Toyota Vios, regardless of whether it was registered as a street-hail service or ride-hail service. This inconsistency in application of the law is not in the interest of the child. Why should there be a compromise on child safety for street-hail? From a safety perspective there should be equal treatment across the board.
Will the Ministry consider harmonising this requirement for both street-hail and ride-hail services?
Public Transport Council
Lastly, while it is necessary that the Public Transport Council (PTC) have oversight of prices, it is important not to overreach.
The Bill will give the PTC the discretion to set a pricing policy for fares charged by ride-hailing operators.
I would like to clarify when and under what conditions PTC will step in to regulate. What are their considerations and guiding principles of how they will regulate ride-hail services? What are the limits to the powers of the PTC in relation to ride-hail services?
Sir, notwithstanding my clarifications, I stand in support of this Bill.
Watch the speech here
Watch the response by MOT here