Someone alerted me to the article from Today about how much cabbies are really earning. Apparently, the figure quoted in the article – $9,858 before expenses, was a little too similar to the title of one of my previous post. Hmm… if the previous post wasn’t replicated elsewhere (or was it?), then since when did Simply Jean become an “Internet forum”???

Well, at least ComfortDelgro was contacted and that the figure was explained and clarified. Sometimes, it takes a little… publicity to get things moving, else everyone would really start thinking that taxi drivers really earn $318 per day. =P

How much do cabbies really earn?

Friday • January 25, 2008

Ansley Ng

IT was a figure that raised eyebrows and drew incredulous reactions from some taxi drivers as well as commuters — leading ComfortDelGro to yesterday clarify a mistaken impression.

On Tuesday, Transport Minister Raymond Lim had said in Parliament that a study of 5,000 taxis by the largest taxi operator here revealed that each generated $318 in daily average takings, up from $307 after last month’s fare hike.

On Internet forums, one netizen did the calculation that cabbies “earn $9,858 before expenses” each month, leaving some aghast, while others wondered if the data provided was correct.

And it was, but as ComfortDelGro has since clarified, $318 accounts for a taxi’s takings over two shifts.

With most taxis shared between two drivers, to defray costs and working hours, the average daily takings for each cabbie — before deducting rent and petrol costs — would work out to $159. Minus expenses, this would mean the average driver pockets about $85 a day.

“We have over 30,000 drivers and there will definitely be drivers who earn more than the average and those that earn less,” said ComfortDelGro spokeswoman Tammy Tan.

“It is still early days yet and we are still monitoring the situation closely to gauge demand.”

Even so, some taxi drivers that Today spoke to thought the estimate was a tad too optimistic.

“It’s tough to even make $70 a day now after we fork out rent and petrol,” said Mr Maurice Goh. “It didn’t use to be like this before the revision.”

Another driver, Mr Ong Eng Chuan, 72, insisted that his takings have dropped by as much as 20 per cent. “No matter what they say, people are still avoiding taking taxis, unless they really need to,” he said.

Another taxi operator, however, told Today it had conducted its own survey and interviews with cabbies, and the results were not too far from ComfortDelGro’s findings.

Premier Taxis’ managing director Lim Chong Boo, who has a fleet of 2,400 taxis, said: “The results are close to what the Minister revealed”.

While declining to be more precise, he noted: “We found out that some took home more after the revision, while some took home about the same as before but were making fewer trips.”

There were also those who made less money because they spent their time “sitting in coffeeshops”, said Mr Lim. “This is a time where you can separate the good drivers from the rest.”

Singapore’s second-largest cab company SMRT Taxis, with 3,000 vehicles on the road, declined to say if it had studied its drivers’ takings. But spokeswoman said the company frequently meets its cabbies in dialogue sessions and will continue to monitor the situation.

At least one taxi driver that Today spoke to, however, agreed he has benefited from the fare revision.

Mr Ho Kin Hwa, 49, who has been driving for five years, said his takings have improved by $10 to $15 a day, even as he is now making fewer trips.

The father of two drives a 15-hour full shift daily, for five days a week. On Saturdays and Sundays, he drives nine hours a day and shares the vehicle with a relief driver.

For Mr Ho, the math is simple: “It’s tiring but the more I drive, the more I earn.”

Article obtained from on 25th January 2008

Reader's Comments

  1. spyer | January 26th, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    I still remembered very well what Mr Lesile Fong said about the journalistic professionalism of the bloggers. I hope that he is reading his newspapers everyday and taking note of every news reports that are written with sources from the internet and blogs.

  2. spyer | January 28th, 2008 at 1:14 am

    Hey, just discovered something strange about our newspapers.


    In the following extract from Reuters online article,
    Singapore’s economy to slow in 2008: PM
    Article Link (dated 25 Jan 2008)

    He brushed off suggestions that sovereign wealth funds lacked transparency, saying Singapore’s sovereign wealth funds the GIC and Temasek were transparent in their disclosures.

    “We are quite open about what we do,” he said.


    The below extract is from Straits Times (online, dated 25 Jan 2008):
    S’pore wealth funds open, commercially-driven: PM Lee
    Article Link

    ‘We are quite open about what we do and what our intentions are and also the way we have the governance … (Our policy is) not to make bold and exciting moves but move cautiously and preserve the value, invest commercially for long-term sustainable returns,’ Mr Lee said.


    The below is from the Straits Times print edition (27 Jan 2008, World 36)
    S’pore investment funds are transparent, says PM Lee

    “We are quite open about what we do and what our intentions are and also the way we have the governance …

    “Our philosophy generally in Singapore has been to take a low profile, not to make bold and exciting moves, to move cautiously, preserve the value, invest this in a commercial way for long-term sustainable value,” he said.


    How did one sentence (from Reuters) become a few lines in the ST online version (syndicated from Reuters) and later expanded to two paragraphs in the ST print version (also syndicated from Reuters)?

    And, the worst thing is each of the ST versions has slightly different ending clauses.

    In this case, what did our esteemed Prime Minister actually said? I hope that there are no ghost writers on the ST payroll.

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