SINGAPORE (Aug 7): Singapore will tighten regulations on ride-hailing operators such as Grab and Gojek, bringing safety-related rules for the services in line with taxi operators to better protect commuters and drivers.

Senior Minister for Transport Janil Puthucheary outlined a new bill governing the ride-hailing industry in the country’s parliament Tuesday. He said ride-hailing operators with at least 800 vehicles will be licensed. Taxi companies will have another license.

The new regulatory regime comes six years after ride-hailing apps began gaining popularity in Singapore, where prior to 2013 there were 28,000 taxis. Today, there are about 20,000 taxis and 45,000 private hire cars, providing 6% of all journeys in the city-state.

“The need for enhanced safety measures is an area that industry stakeholders and members of the public agreed is of critical importance,” Janil said in a speech that mentioned “safety” 14 times.

The bill will give the Land Transport Authority the power to set safety requirements on licensed operators and mandate closer supervision such as by tracking the number of accidents and driver offenses.

If convicted, unlicensed operators may face a fine of as much as $10,000 or imprisonment for as long as six months, or both, according to a joint statement by the Land Transport Authority and the Public Transport Council.

“Today, we enjoy a point-to-point sector that is able to meet the needs of commuters and drivers, as well as our broader transport objectives, while also allowing innovation to thrive,” Janil said. “This healthy balance is only possible with responsible operators, sensible commuters and safe drivers.”