Whoever said that the taxi operators are heartless blood suckers, who care only about their bottom line and not the welfare of the people who rent and drive their taxis and paying high rents to the (*add your own expletives here*) operators, should eat their own words now. Apparently, the tax reduction that the operators enjoy in the near future may now be passed down to the taxi drivers.

For ComfortDelgro, this works out to be about S$2,700,000 per year. Disbursing this amount to their drivers definitely seems like a generous move on their part because they would have to answer to their shareholders at the end of the day, since any additional money to any company should not really be considered "free money" but usually taken into consideration and contribution to a company’s bottom line.

Well done to all the taxi operators, I say. Well done. =) Who says that taxi operators are heartless? 😉

CABBIES stand to gain from the 15 per cent cut in road tax taking effect in July.

The cut in road tax will result in savings of $4.4 million a year – or $180 per vehicle – for the entire industry, and operators are expected to pass this on to drivers.

ComfortDelGro, which has 15,000 out of the 24,500 cabs here, said it is working with its drivers’ association on how to disburse its $2.7 million in annual road tax savings.

‘We will find out if drivers prefer cash or other means like top-up to their Medisave accounts,” said company spokesman Tammy Tan.

ComfortDelGro chief executive Kua Hong Pak said: ‘The annual savings of $2.7 million are significant to us – but they are even more significant to our drivers.”

Likewise, SMRT Taxis vice-president Lo Chee Wen said the company will pass road tax savings on its 3,000-strong fleet to drivers.

The newcomers are following suit too.

Separately, cab companies stand to save another $8.2 million a year or so on fleet replacement. This is on the back of a 10 percentage point cut in the additional registration fee (ARF), a major car tax.

But no one is looking to pass savings from ARF reduction on to cabbies. Observers say this could be because other costs, such as certificate of entitlement (COE) premiums, could rise. Also, the replacement rate is uneven across the industry.

Both operators and drivers reckon the wider Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) coverage and possibly sharply higher charges will have an impact on cab availability in ERP-controlled areas.

Smart Taxis managing director Johnny Harjantho said the expanded ERP network ‘will certainly discourage drivers from entering some areas’.

‘There is no guarantee that they will find passengers if they enter,’ said Mr Harjantho.

Cabby Joseph Ho, 48, said: ‘People are just starting to take cabs again after the fare increase. The ERP effect will definitely have an impact.’

Commuters are also apprehensive. Communications executive Ang Qianling, 23, said: ‘I will try to cut down on taking taxis, especially during the peak hour when the surcharges are so insanely high. It’s quite scary to imagine how much it would be when ERP is added to the fare.’

Teacher Melissa Lee, 26, said that following the fare hike, ERP would be an added burden.

‘I am already trying to avoid taking taxis now, but in times of urgency when I am running late, I have no choice,’ she said.

Housewife Chan Sze Ling, 44, said ‘all the more I will avoid taxis’.

‘Their fares are so high already, and if I have to pay even more for ERP…I think it is way too much,’ she added.

CHRISTOPHER TAN

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 31st January 2008



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