Taxi apps such as Uber to be regulated by Singapore

Uber app in Singapore Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Singapore government will regulate mobile taxi booking apps such as Uber

Singapore plans to regulate third-party taxi booking apps such as Uber by capping fees and limiting them to use only licensed vehicles and drivers.

Operators such as Uber and GrabTaxi will now have to register with the country's Land Transport Authority.

Under the regulations, fees charged by the booking apps cannot exceed those of regular taxi companies.

The new measures will be enforced from the second quarter of next year, the government office said on Friday.

"To ensure that taxi services remain equally accessible to all members of the public, bidding and pre-trip tipping for taxi services will not be allowed," the LTA added in a statement.

Rising popularity

Wealthy city-state Singapore is among the most expensive places in the world to own a car, with many commuters relying on taxis to get around.

The popularity of taxi booking services has surged in the city of nearly 5.4 million people, especially during peak business hours.

Uber has expanded rapidly in Singapore offering services such as high-end UberExec and cheaper UberX cars, along with a service to book regular taxis.

The company said the new rules would not affect its extra services, because it already has partnerships with licensed limousine and rental car companies.

"We appreciate that the LTA has acknowledged the benefits our technology brings, and like Uber, is putting the interest and safety of consumers and drivers first," said Uber's regional general manager of Southeast Asia, Mike Brown, in a statement to Reuters.

The San Francisco-based company has faced protests around the world by taxi drivers who are against its services, which allow people to become unlicensed taxi drivers by using their own cars.

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