Taxi industry standards must be raised, says Najib

Najib Razak.KUALA LUMPUR: The various steps and decisions taken by the government to transform the taxi service industry are to ensure that the sector continues to be progressive, says Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Najib said the taxi industry played an important role as the first and last mile connectivity, but its service must be upgraded further with the latest business practices in line with technological advancements.

In a posting on his blog, he said the government had identified several problems that had plagued the industry, such as an archaic business model, maintenance costs that exceeded income, as well as the quality of drivers and standard of vehicles.

Other problems included the absence of centralised monitoring, unsatisfactory public perception and the challenges of new innovations such as e-hailing.

“We have introduced many initiatives to help the taxi industry resolve these problems and improve the quality of taxi services in line with the Taxi Transformation Plan,” he said.

This included the Teksi Rakyat 1Malaysia (TR1Ma), Teksi 1Malaysia (TEKS1M), the 2015 Fare Review and the 2015 Taxi Industry Laboratory, said Najib.

He said arising from the 2015 Taxi Initiative Laboratory, the initiative for the Taxi Industry Transformation Programme was approved by the Cabinet in August to bring about comprehensive changes to the industry.

“It is not just from the monitoring aspects, but also a reshuffle of the business model in line with developments in innovations and technology in order to allow for fairer competition between all providers of national taxi services,” he said.

Commenting on the status of e-hailing services like Uber and Grab, the prime minister said the two services had been placed under the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) with certain conditions.

“Let me stress here that the decision was made not for the interests of any party. Instead, it was made to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, allowing for bigger changes in our efforts to transform the taxi service in general,” he said.

Najib said the Taxi Industry Transformation Programme also included initiatives to protect the welfare of taxi drivers through introducing uniformed leased contracts, allowing applications for individual taxi licences, increasing the list of cars as taxis with emphasis on safety features, and having KPIs on taxi companies.

He added that SPAD would also rationalise taxi fares by having uniform metered taxi fares, reviewing the coupon system based on distance and not zones, and allowing dynamic fares, which will give the taxi driver the freedom to opt for fares set by e-hailing services.

The prime minister said although SPAD had been appointed to lead the changes in the taxi industry, the overall transformation could only be carried out with the cooperation of all parties concerned.

“The reality is that all changes will surely face many challenges. Especially when we want to transform a service that is long-entrenched and comfortable in traditional ways.

“To progress, we have to move in tune with today’s technology and innovations, and we must focus on making our service consumer-friendly and on par with other countries in the world,” he said.