App-based rides to be regulated

By THE STAR | 29 October 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: Taxi-like services that operate through smartphone apps may find themselves regulated.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) was looking at amending the neccesary laws.

While the services offered by such applications were not illegal, Shahidan said the usage of vehicles without permits was illegal and a breach of the law.

He acknowledged that such services made it more convenient for consumers to book their taxi rides.

“However, bookings through the apps to match taxi drivers that are not registered or licensed by SPAD and using private or rented cars are offences,” he said.

“In the long run, SPAD is weighing out amending the Land Public Transportation Commission Act and to draft a new policy to regulate taxi services based on the smart apps to ensure that Malaysia offers safe and satisfactory service to consumers,” he said when replying a question by Dr Lee Boon Chye, the DAP MP of Gopeng, in the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday.

Shahidan said SPAD has held several meetings with the apps operators and stakeholders and issued written notices to remind the operators that only permitted vehicles were allowed for their services.

He said they included Uber, MyTeksi, EasyTeksi and MongerTeksi.

SPAD, in a statement issued on Wednesday, reiterated its commitment to the taxi industry.

The statement follows fierce protests by the industry against Uber, a vehicle-for-hire service.

“In reality, the taxi industry in Malaysia is far from being anywhere near perfect. It remains the most fragmented segment of our public transport and is riddled with legacy issues which have been around for the past few decades,” the statement said.

SPAD has promised to address this by implementing the Centralised Taxi Service System (CTSS) which will serve as a central platform to monitor taxi supply distribution and performance.

“It will also integrate with existing booking and dispatch systems to enhance travel experience,” it said.

It said it was undertaking a comprehensive regulatory review of the taxi industry.

SPAD said that a key issue was the “decades old” legacy taxi operation/leasing model, commonly known as pajak system.

“This system must be improved, so that it is transparent and equitable for the benefit of both the drivers and the operators.”

There are currently 65,292 taxis in peninsular Malaysia of which 44,012 are metered taxis which are largely company owned (62%).