The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has announced that it will be committing to a plan that will transform the taxi industry in Malaysia. At the core of this plan is a new mobile app for taxis that will allow them to compete with ride-sharing services like Uber and Grab.
Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi says that the app will be developed in cooperation with mobile network service providers, and is aimed at providing a convenient method for the public to access taxis. Abdul Aziz says that ride-sharing apps are preferred simply because they offer people a convenient and comfortable way of getting transport.
He refuted the notion that Uber and Grab are preferred due to the lower fares and that Malaysian taxi services are of low quality. Interestingly, this is precisely the opposite of the results from a survey conducted by SPAD late last year.
SPAD has announced that it will not be banning ride-sharing apps, and is instead interested in regulating their operations. To this end, it also looks like the commission will be trying to help taxi drivers become more competitive in the face of a changing public transport market.
It should also be pointed out that Grab also offers a service for users to hail taxis instead of private vehicles, although this option does not seem to be as popular. However, it does highlight that a mobile app may not entirely be the answer to making taxis a viable alternative.
Taxi drivers held their most recent protest last week by blocking Jalan Bukit Bintang for several hours during rush hour. These protests are becoming increasingly common, although it doesn’t look like SPAD is backing down from its stand on ride-sharing services.