Important to maintain balance in taxi industry

ON Sept 22, Uber was told by regulator Transport for London (TfL) that it will be stripped of its licence to operate in London at the end of September.

In response to a UK government freedom of information request in July, TfL published details of its meetings with executives from Lyft, Uber's closest US rival in the e-hailing business.

Uber entered the Malaysian market in 2014 and decimated taxi apps by using private cars and charging way below taxi rates.

Their stranglehold on the market turned out to be a blessing in disguise for MyTeksi, which quickly adopted Uber's business model by adding private cars to existing taxis.

MyTeksi morphed into Grab and competed successfully with Uber not just in Malaysia but all over Southeast Asia, and forged strategic alliances with other regional e-hailing app giants.

Regulators everywhere should promote a healthy taxi industry by facilitating two or three e-hailing apps to compete with each other, and also ensure sufficient supply of taxis to maintain an equilibrium so that passengers are not easily exploited by surge pricing and other practices.

The 11 programmes under the Taxi Industry Transformation Plan (TITP) include regulating e-hailing services as operators are required to obtain a business licence, qualified taxi drivers granted individual permits, and rental-purchase agreements standardised to protect drivers sourcing taxis from companies.

The success of TITP would depend on the officers tasked to implement them, including maintaining a delicate balance between supply and demand for both taxis and e-hailing services.

YS Chan
Kuala Lumpur