Woohoo! I am really happy for the taxi drivers – because in the midst of the booming economy, their pay has finally risen and it is good news for them! I just hope that their rent will not be going up soon. You know? Pass the buck? Technically, if fare have risen by about 49%, then theoretically, they would only need to work 66.6% as hard as before the hike to earn back the same amount as they did previously.

Extrapolating that, it means that instead of having to drive for 15 hours, they would only need to drive for 10 lucrative hours to get back the same earnings as they did. Any more and it’d be a "pay rise". Of course we can’t extrapolate in such a manner, but it basically means that if they maintain their driving routine, they should earn more.

Never mind the drop in demand.

Speaking of which, I believe that 66.6% seems to be a rather familiar number. No, I didn’t rig the figure. It’s calculated based on the 49% increase in fares. Simple maths. Really.

DEMAND for taxis has fallen since the fare hike three weeks ago, but at least one cab operator is confident cabbies’ income has not suffered in spite of that.

Market leader ComfortDelGro Corp, which has about 65 per cent of the 23,900 taxis here, says preliminary data shows cabbies’ earnings have actually risen.

‘Our initial indications are that drivers’ income has gone up by about 10-11 per cent since the fare changes were implemented on Dec 17,” said ComfortDelGro spokesman Tammy Tan. ‘The average driver takes back about $270 more per month.”

But Ms Tan said call bookings have fallen by over 20 per cent.

With long queues of taxis waiting for passengers in several parts of town, commuters are finding it less of a necessity to phone for a cab now.

Other operators are not certain how the fare hike – which has raised the cost of rides by at least 5 per cent – has affected cabbies’ income.

Mr Johnny Harjantho, managing director of Smart Taxis, also said call bookings for Smart – which has about 800 cabs – have fallen by ‘about 40 per cent”. He said this is not necessarily bad because the company has in the past found it hard to cater to all bookings.

SMRT Taxis, which has over 3,000 cabs, claimed its call bookings had shrunk by ‘about 100 a day’ (or an estimated 5 per cent), but said it had no indication of how cabbies’ incomes were affected.

Premier Taxis, with about 2,200 cabs, said its call bookings have been ‘pretty bad’ since the fare hike.

Companies expect business to pick up soon as the new work and school year gets into full swing. ‘The real test is what demand will be like after Chinese New Year,” said Mr Harjantho.

Senior transport analyst Lim Jit Soon concurs. ‘Frankly, it is too early to tell. People may be staying away initially, which is a knee-jerk reaction. Then they might come back.”

But he said even if the demand does not pick up, ‘it’s better for the industry as there will be fewer complaints about not being to get a taxi”.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 4th January 2008

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