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A new app will be launched in May for those who wish to book a taxi. Official Ride, or Oride.taxi, is a private initiative by the Federation of Taxi Drivers Associations and Companies for Peninsula (Gabungan) and Official Ride Services. Apart from the ability to book a cab, the online booking service also offers incentives to both drivers and passengers via a rating system, the New Straits Times reports.

At its initial phase, some 20,000 taxis in Greater Kuala Lumpur will be equipped with the system. According to Oride representatives, the aim was to have 40,000 taxi drivers signing up for the system before its expansion to other states such as Johor, Malacca and Penang. When launched, bookings can be made on its website, an app or phone call.

The system will allow for both drivers and passengers to give each other ratings. Said system will see passengers rewarded with rebates, based on the rating given by the drivers. Meanwhile, drivers will be rewarded for their efficiency in providing services to passengers, especially during peak hours and in congested areas.

“We also offer training for the drivers to allow them to improve their services to the passengers,” said Oride representatives. “Some of them are getting between RM5,000 and RM10,000 a month, which is a lot more than what taxi drivers are earning,” Oride reps said of ride-sharing apps.

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“Taxi drivers should make use of such a system to keep abreast with times and compete with others who have started using such technology to earn extra income,” said Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar

“We want to see the industry (taxi) self-regulate and improve its services. The industry was too slow (to react) and didn’t look into demands of the public who now want taxis to be available immediately,” he said. Hamid Albar added that the new service will put the taxi industry on a level-playing field with ride-sharing apps.

It is hoped that the system can be rolled out and used by taxi drivers nationwide by 2019. At the same time, it will soon allow for e-payment via credit or debit cars as well as Touch ’N Go cards. On another note, the information gathered by the Oride database can be used by the authorities.

Last year was indeed a dramatic one for taxi drivers, SPAD and ride-sharing apps including Uber and Grabcar, as it was claimed that ride-sharing apps were affecting the livelihoods of taxi drivers. From vigilantism cases to protests and legal suits, SPAD eventually took the initiative to engage with the public to gather feedback, which saw many saying they preferred ride-sharing apps to taxi services.