The Malaysian government’s move to make licensing compulsory for ride-hailing service drivers has been lauded by the travel trade, with industry players believing that tighter regulation will improve passenger safety and level the playing field for transport providers.
Under the new regulation introduced in July 2018, drivers with ride-hailing service providers are required to obtain a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence by July 12.
S Jayakumar, vice president of land transportation at Malaysian Association of Tour & Travel Agents (MATTA), said: “The PSV licence will regulate drivers as licences will only be granted to those without criminal records and outstanding summonses. Currently, we don’t know the background of these e-hailing drivers.
“The government should also make it compulsory for e-hailing vehicle owners to obtain a commercial vehicle insurance as this will also cover passengers in the event of an accident and provide a level playing field for taxi companies and agents who provide transportation services.”
Jayakumar, who is also director at Dayangti Transport & Tours, said business was badly affected when e-hailing services were legalised in Malaysia. As a result, the company sold all five limousine cars previously used for transfers and to service corporate clients.
He shared: “They preferred to take e-hailing services because it was cheaper. We have to charge more because we pay (fixed) wages and travel allowances to our full-time drivers.”
Similarly, Adam Kamal, secretary-general at Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association, said: “Members report that demand for transfers and tour services especially in the Klang Valley had reduced substantially since e-hailing services were legalised.”
Adam, as well as World Avenues’ executive director Ally Bhoonee, did not believe the new regulation would have an impact on tourism as transport alternatives such as taxis were readily available in tourist destinations. He added: “The Klang Valley also has LRTs and MRTs as well as free shuttle buses.”
In the short term however, Adam believes any price increase – resulting from a ride-hailing supply deficit from drivers not meeting the deadline to be licensed – could be good news for tour and transport operators.