COVID-19: $77m package for taxi, private-hire car drivers amid falling ridership

Yahoo News Singapore file photo

SINGAPORE — The government and industry players are joining forces to provide a $77 million support package for taxi and private-hire car (PHC) drivers affected by plummeting ridership amid the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19).

The government will contribute $45 million toward the Point-to- Point Support Package (PPSP), with the remainder financed by taxi and PHC companies, said transport authorities in a joint statement on Thursday (13 February).

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the Ministry of Transport (MOT) have been gathering feedback from taxi and PHC operators, the National Taxi Association (NTA) and the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA). “Operators have reflected that ridership has declined significantly. In turn, taxi and PHC drivers have seen their livelihoods badly affected,” said a spokesperson.

In this regard, there is an urgent need for targeted assistance to drivers, so as to ensure sustainable P2P services for Singapore commuters.

Earlier on Thursday, Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary announced the PPSP, which comprises two components for drivers.

Firstly, $73 million will go towards a Special Relief Fund (SRF) to help active full-time taxi and PHC drivers defray business costs. About 40,000 eligible drivers will receive a Special Relief of up to $20 per vehicle per day for three months.

The government will contribute $10 per vehicle per day, with the remainder coming from contributing taxi and PHC operators. Eligible taxi hirers will automatically receive the Special Relief through their taxi operators starting from Friday. PHC operators will provide application and disbursement details to their drivers within the next week.

Secondly, active drivers who do not qualify for the SRF can also benefit from financial assistance. The government and NTUC will set up a Government-NTUC Care Fund for needy drivers. The Government will contribute $2.7 million towards this fund. Details on the application process will be released later.

Separately, in recognition of efforts by P2P operators to support their drivers, LTA will waive three months of operator licence fees totalling about $1.3 million. The agency will also delay the implementation of the upcoming Street-hail Service Operator Licence (SSOL) and Ride-hail Service Operator Licence (RSOL).

The new P2P regulatory regime will take effect from September 2020 instead.

On 1 February, a tripartite care package was also launched for quarantined drivers, which includes rental waivers and cash assistance.

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