Using an e-hailing service has always been one of the best alternatives to taking a taxi, especially when it was more affordable. Now it looks like taking a taxi instead would be more affordable, as plenty of e-hailing drivers would stop due to the government's enforcement of them needing a Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence.
Thanks to this, the e-hailing drivers associations foresee an increase in fares, with Malaysian E-hailing Drivers Association (MeHDA) predicting it to be up to 50% – depending on factors such as demand and supply as well as the timing of the rides. “We will see fewer drivers when the deadline comes because many part-timers are opting out; plus many other drivers are still not PSV-ready," said MeHDA president Daryl Chong.
“The surcharge on fares is already in practice now with a maximum cap of 100% set by APAD (Land Public Transport Agency). For example, a RM10 ride can go up to RM20 during peak hours. E-hailing companies give incentives to drivers during peak hours in the morning and evening to encourage them to pick up passengers. But higher fares would mean fewer passengers. So they will mostly keep the increase minimal, at perhaps RM15 so that passengers are not badly affected.
"If this mechanism is applied after the deadline, fares will certainly see an increase,” he said.
According to APAD, there are about 167,000 e-hailing drivers in Malaysia and the Transport Ministry revealed on Tuesday that only 16,338 drivers had signed up for the PSV test abd out of the figure, 62% (10,151) drivers qualified for the PSV licence ahead of the deadline.
There is hope that this price increase is only a "transitional occurence" and that the situation will likely improve by the end of the year as drivers continue to get their PSV licence even after the deadline. There's also the possibility that e-hailing companies will absorb the price difference and keeping the same fares even when there is a shortage of drivers during non-peak hours.
But until then, it looks like we'll be going through a "carmageddon" as Grab Drivers Malaysia Association president Arif Asyraf Ali aptly called it.