It’s been confirmed. With effect from 1 March 2008, taxi fares for Prime taxis will follow the big boys. They will be implementing everything from the head to the toe – from the 30 cents increase to S$2.80 for the flag down rate to the 35% increase in the peak hour surcharge. It’s interesting how one of the cabby commented about following the big boys, but I guess that is common Singaporean mentality – just follow the big ones and you can’t go too wrong.

Seems like my last avenue of cheap taxi is gone.

AFTER holding out for over a month, Singapore’s smallest cab operator, Prime Taxis, will raise its fares to come in line with other companies here.

At a meeting yesterday, over 90 per cent of Prime’s 120 cabbies voted in favour of raising fares, said general manager Tan Choon Chye.

From March 1, the flagdown rate for the company’s 100-plus copper-coloured cabs will rise by 30 cents to $2.80.

Thereafter, the fare will jump by 20 cents every 385m – up to 10km – from 10 cents every 210m previously.

At the same time, Prime will implement what commuters have called the most unpopular change of all: a 35 per cent surcharge on the metered fare during peak hours. That is up from the previous flat charge of $2.

This surcharge ends up being especially pricey for commuters who make long-distance trips. For instance, a $22 ride before the fare hike now costs nearly $30 during peak hours.

Mr Tan said, however, that Prime’s flagdown is still lower than the $3 levy for other taxis with automatic transmissions.

‘Automatic cabs are smoother and more comfortable for passengers,’ he said.

Prime cabby Lim Poh Huat, 50, welcomed the fare adjustment.

‘We are a small player. Commuters who want a cab can’t wait for ours to come along. It is better for us to just follow the big boys,’ the 17-year veteran said.

Taxi-drivers are picking up fewer passengers since the fare hike on Dec 17.

But because of higher fares, most have been able to make as much money as they did before the increase. Prime cabbies faced a double whammy of fewer rides and no fare increase.

However, they enjoy the lowest running cost in the trade as taxi rental starts from $69, versus the industry average of $90. Prime taxis can run on compressed natural gas too – the fuel is about 25 per cent cheaper than diesel.

Part of parallel importer Prime Leasing, Prime Taxis started plying last September.

Its fleet consists of Japanese cars such as the Toyota Wish, Honda Airwave and Honda Stream.

Tomorrow, it will launch its limousine taxi fleet, starting with six Toyota Estima MPVs and one Toyota Camry.

There are now about 24,500 taxis in Singapore – 45 per cent more than in 1997.

Article obtained from on 30th January 2008

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