The Land Transport Authority (LTA) will fine-tune the taxi availability (TA) standards in the second year of its implementation to minimise empty cruising of taxis during shoulder peak periods.
The LTA requirement for the shoulder peak periods of 6am to 7am, and 11pm to 12 midnight will be adjusted from 75 per cent to 60 per cent.
LTA said its review shows that there is lower taxi demand and shorter waiting times at taxi stands during the shoulder peak periods. LTA gave this update in response to suggestions from the National Taxi Association (NTA) on taxi availability.
There will be further support for taxi drivers in the new year.
From January 2014, active drivers will only need to pay half of the Taxi Driver's Vocational Licence (TDVL) fees.
When they renew their licences, drivers will undergo a shorter TDVL refresher course.
LTA is working with NTA and taxi companies on a mediation scheme to provide a channel for taxi drivers to settle disputes amicably with one another and with their taxi companies.
According to LTA, since the TA standards were implemented on 1 January 2013, more taxis have been on the roads in the first nine months of the year, compared to the same period in 2012.
Last year, the total taxi fleet on the roads during peak periods was 82.6 per cent. This year, it was 84.8 per cent.
LTA said it shares NTA's view that taxi companies should not pass down financial penalties that they incur to taxi drivers, and companies should help and incentivise their drivers to achieve the service and availability standards.
LTA stressed that although it will raise TA standards from 1 January 2014, the first-year TA standards will be used as the basis for financial penalties in 2014.
This will allow taxi companies additional time to adjust to the higher second-year TA standards.
LTA noted that most taxi companies are currently able to pass the first-year standards, and so should not incur any TA penalties.
On the suggestion to exclude certain taxis from the TA computation, LTA said flexibility has already been exercised.
Taxi companies can apply for an exemption of niche or premium taxi services from the TA computation.