SINGAPORE, Sept 15 — Amid longstanding calls to set a minimum age for private-hire car drivers, all new private-hire car driver’s vocational licence (PDVL) applicants must be Singaporeans who are at least 30 years old at the point of application, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced with immediate effect today.
They must also have a minimum of one year of driving experience. Previously, permanent residents were also eligible to apply for the licence and there was no minimum age, although applicants had to have held a driver’s licence for at least two years to qualify. This meant they could be as young as 20 years old.
In a media statement on Tuesday, LTA said it has reviewed the eligibility criteria for the PDVL to align them with the eligibility requirements for the taxi driver’s vocational licence.
This was done after several rounds of consultations with industry stakeholders and associations, it said, adding that the alignment was done also due to the growing similarities between taxi and private-hire car services.
Existing PDVL holders who are below 30 years old or are Singapore permanent residents will not be affected by this new rule.
They will be able to continue providing private-hire car services as long as they renew their PDVLs before expiry.
All PDVL applications received before 5.30pm on Sept 15 will continue to be processed under the previous eligibility criteria, said LTA.
Previously, then Senior Minister of State for Transport Janil Puthucheary had said that setting a minimum age for private-hire car drivers would not be easy and doing so would affect the number of drivers providing point-to-point services.
Still, he said that the Government would review the size of the driver pool against the needs of the point-to-point transport industry.
In a Facebook post today, Senior Minister of State for Transport Amy Khor said there are 7,500 PDVL holders below the age of 30, or about 15 per cent of the total.
She added that in the first six months of 2020, there were 150 new PDVL holders per month below the age of 30 years old.
This is slightly less than 30 per cent of the total new PDVL holders in the same period. Close to 90 per cent of private-hire car drivers below 30 years of age are part-time drivers, said Ms Khor.
She added: “Even as we continue to deal with the immediate impact of Covid-19, it is important that we address some longer-term considerations.”
The new criteria, which the Government had considered carefully, will help older drivers a little during this difficult period, Ms Khor said.
In a separate statement today, the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA) and the National Taxi Association (NTA) said that drivers have also expressed concerns on the low age requirement for one to obtain a PDVL — an issue that the associations have raised before.
“We are grateful that our requests have been heard and responded to positively,” they said.
“Raising the requirement will not only level the playing field for taxi drivers who have to adhere to a minimum age of 30 years old but will also encourage young drivers to gain outside work experience which will enlarge their skill sets and provide them with long term job prospects.”
They added that young drivers should consider gaining employment through schemes such as the SGUnited Traineeship programmes or placement programmes under the Jobs Growth Incentive.
Private-hire firms respond
In response to TODAY’s queries, Lien Choon Luen, general manager of Gojek Singapore, said its private-hire driver partners span a wide range of ages and include a mix of full-time and part-time drivers.
He noted that young drivers form a small proportion of Gojek’s overall pool of drivers and most of them are part-time drivers. Nevertheless, he pointed out that this “suggests that ride-hailing is an important source of earnings to support (the young drivers) as they pursue longer-term objectives”.
He said: “As ride-hailing affords flexibility and choice, many of these drivers see ride-hailing as a means to supplement their other life goals, be it studies, sports or running their own business.”
Separately, a Grab spokesperson said the firm will work closely with the authorities to align its onboarding process with the revised eligibility criteria of the PDVL. — TODAY