Yes, despite all the brouhaha, despite all the threats to ever stop taking taxis in their whole lives, Singaporeans have succumbed to the fare hikes of the cabs and have resumed taking taxis as their daily means of transport. I suspected something was wrong when many taxi drivers where choosing locations when a group us were trying to flag a cab because our car broke down. My suspicions got aroused when a taxi driver waved me off like some fly. Then all these are confirmed in today’s article in the papers.

So now, all the taxi drivers can afford to be arrogant again and pick and choose passengers. I wonder when is the next time cabbies complain again. In fact, I even hear some rivers complaining that it’s still not enough and thay want more hikes! Gee… However, I wonder even more on when the taxi companies are going to raise the taxi rental fees to create that void that can only be filled by more of the commuter’s wallet.

Oh wait! The increase fuel cost may just create that void!

Oh happy day! (oh happy day!) Oh happy day! (oh happy day….) *suck thumb*

THE chorus of complaints that came from the taxi industry after fares were raised in December last year seems to have died down.

Although some customers initially stayed away from taxis, there has been a turnaround, and with it fears that the earnings of cabbies would drop seem to have eased, according to surveys done by the country’s two biggest taxi companies.

ComfortDelgro, the largest taxi operator here with about 15,000 of the country’s 24,000 taxis, saw a 16 per cent increase in takings for a cabby’s full day of work.

For a full-day shift, cabbies are earning $187.92, up from $162 before the fare revision, after deducting the cost of fuel and renting the cab.

SMRT, which has about 3,000 cabs on the road, said cabbies saw a 20 per cent increase in gross income in the first quarter of this year, compared with the last quarter of last year.

The data came from a survey of about 300 taxi drivers.

In a bid to alleviate a taxi shortage and raise the drivers’ earnings, the six taxi companies increased their starting metered fare from $2.50 to $2.80 in December.

The meter was also adjusted to tick faster, with 20 cents charged for every 385m up to 10km travelled, instead of 10 cents for every 210m.

However, commuters were most peeved by a revised peak-hour surcharge which was tweaked from a flat $2 to 35 per cent of the metered fare. The surcharge for picking up passengers in the city centre also went up from $1 to $3.

After first avoiding taxis in favour of public transport, more commuters seem to be going back to them.

The average daily ridership for taxis for January was 855,000 while February’s went up to 934,000.

Last year, the average daily ridership was 945,000.

Said 55-year-old cabby Haniff Mahbob, who has been on the job for 20 years: ‘After fares went up, we had few customers. But luckily the new fares offset our lost business. Now, business is definitely picking up. I’m sure more drivers have bigger smiles on their faces.’

Call bookings are also on the rise this year, according to ComfortDelgro.

The company will also soon offer a service which allows passengers to book a cab by sending an SMS message with their postal code and pick-up location.

The Taxi Operators’ Associations, which represents drivers’ associations of five of the six taxi companies, said: ‘The situation seems to have stabilised and improved, but we are still quite concerned that rising fuel cost may eat into our drivers’ income.’

Oil prices hit a record US$117.50 (S$160) a barrel this week.

On average, taxi drivers on a full-day shift spend close to $40 on diesel and about $90 on cab rental.

mariaa@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 25th April 2008



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