$2.5 million fund to drive cabbies to upgrade skills

$2.5 million fund to drive cabbies to upgrade skills

SINGAPORE - To help taxi drivers cope with the long hours spent on the road and new technologies such as third-party booking apps, a training fund has been created to help them upgrade their skills.

Taxi operators will be able to tap a $2.52 million fund set up by the National Trades Union Congress' Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) to subsidise in-house or external courses for drivers.

These courses can be about safe driving, service excellence or information technology. Operators have to design a structured training curriculum.

Some 4,000 cabbies will benefit from the fund over two years, e2i and the National Taxi Association (NTA) said yesterday.

Announcing the fund yesterday, the organisations said the taxi industry has "transformed exponentially" over the past few years due to the widespread use of new booking systems.

Taxi availability standards also mean drivers have "to shoulder longer hours", they added.

Taxi operators can receive up to 90 per cent in subsidies for course fees via the scheme. It will also help cover loss of income of up to $7.50 per hour per driver.

Cabby Haniff Mahbob, 62, said: "We are conscious about safety, so if we can go for a course about tactical driving, it'd be good." But as he does not have a relief driver, he hopes the training will be divided into half-day sessions so he can still drive on those days to cover his rental.

TransCab general manager Jasmine Tan said the firm looks to "cater to the needs of individual drivers", whether they need more practice in customer service or driving.

Mr Benny Lim, managing director of SMRT Roads, said the fund will allow more cabbies to receive comprehensive training.

NTA executive adviser Ang Hin Kee said commuters will benefit by getting to destinations safer with better service.

Copywriter Nathan Ng, 30, said the scheme is timely: "Cabbies really need to up their service standards to international levels."


This article was first published on Dec 16, 2014.
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