Point-to-point (P2P) Support Package (PSPP) Extended to Help Taxi, Private-hire Car Drivers and Operators Tide Covid-19 Crisis
In what appears to be a balancing act between public health and economy, Singapore’s Ministry of Transport hinted on a package of measures seen to alleviate economic difficulties taxi and private hire car drivers are facing amid a continuing onslaught of COVID-19 which has taken a toll on every country around the globe.
In her Facebook post on September 12, Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor said that the government is specifically targeting to extend help in the form of economic packages to point-to-point transport sector stakeholders. They have not been able to earn since March because of the government restrictions aimed at preventing further spread of the highly-contagious virus.
The government has been gradually easing restrictions in the business sector to jumpstart an economy which has been stalled for months. However, part of easing restrictions come stringent health protocols to keep contamination in check.
Point-to-point Ridership Remains Low in Phase 2
Parallel with lifting business restrictions under Phase 2, the government raised the green flag for the transportation sector – including taxi and private hire car drivers.
But even after getting back to the road, most of the taxi and private hire car drivers lamented on what they described as “worst dry spells of passenger pick-ups.” According to an article posted online by The Strait Times, the re-opening of shops and clearance for gathering hardly helped with low yield from passengers taking a cab or private hire cars.
Passengers come in a trickle as drivers take long turns queuing at waiting bays.
With modest figures representing point-to-point ridership, taxi and private hire car drivers reported a significant drop in their earnings as compared to before the onset of the COVID-19.
Incidentally, Singapore has yet to lift the travel ban on arrivals and departure of tourists, which form a big chunk of point-to-point ridership.
$112M Funded by the Government
In a series of talks with transport stakeholders, Dr Khor has openly admitted that the point-to-point sector remains on a slump despite the resumption of some activities.
In response, Dr Khor said that the Singaporean government, through the Land Transport Authority, is setting aside another S$112 million in financial relief for taxi operators and private-hire firms in an apparent effort to help a sector that is considered one of the hardest hit by the pandemic.
Interestingly, the S$112 million financial relief is up and above the combined S$172 million support packages which were released in February and March this year.
In a statement, LTA said that S$106 million of which will be carried over under a six-month extension of the Special Relief Fund (SRF), until March next year.
SRF will specifically help some 40,000 taxi and private-hire car drivers who stand to get S$300 monthly pay-out for each vehicle.
Taxi operators for their part said they would continue providing matching rental rebates amounting to S$29 million, seen to benefit hirers.
Aside from financial assistance, LTA is also extending the nine-month operator license fee waiver by another three months, representing a S$1.2 million savings for the operators.
Moreover, the government announced a one-year extension for the liberalized point-to-point regulations, which will allow both taxi and private-hire car drivers to use their vehicles for delivery services too.
Eligibility of the Second P2P Support Package
Recognizing government efforts to help their sector, the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) and the National Taxi Association (NTA), welcomed the most recent development in a statement which reads:
“We appreciate how the tripartite partners have been engaging our drivers on the ground through several dialogue sessions and noting their concerns. We hope that with the cooperation of the public to keep community cases low, more restrictions can be lifted to stimulate activities that will benefit our drivers greatly.”
Government data shows that some 66,000 drivers and operators of taxis private-hire cars are tightly fighting to get a share of what seemed relatively limited passengers.
Eligible for the second P2P support package is some 40,000 cabbies and private hire car drivers and operators. The criteria for eligibility require an applicant to be a Singapore citizen at least 30 years old at the point of application, with a minimum of one year of driving and relative experiences.
Private-hire car driver applications received before September 15 would still be processed under the previous eligibility criteria.
Existing Singaporean license holders below 30 years old will not be affected by the new criteria.