No relief for cab drivers

SINGAPORE - I have been a taxi driver for the past 28 years.

I used to be a one-man operator, as rental was not high then.

In the past two years, however, I have had no choice but to get a relief driver to share the cost, as rental has increased from $80 a day to $130 a day now. Including the cost of diesel, my daily cost has risen to $170 a day, or about $5,100 a month.

Finding a relief driver is not easy. I have had three relief drivers over the past two years - they wanted to hire their own cabs or were unable to continue driving, hence the changes.

Many other cab drivers face the same problems finding a relief driver.

This is why I am disappointed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) imposing more stringent standards on taxis to boost their availability ("More cabs during peak hours under new rules"; last Thursday).

There was also no acknowledgement from the LTA on the hard work drivers put in to improve taxi availability.

There is no point requiring cabs to travel 250km a day if there is no match with demand, especially during off-peak periods when supply outstrips demand.

Many of my colleagues have to rely on third-party apps to figure out where customers are, rather than wait at taxi stands.

LTA should help the industry by studying emerging trends and practices that could work each taxi harder, rather than put all the pressure on drivers.

The end-goal should be to ensure commuters can get cabs more easily, and that drivers get to enjoy a balanced work life.

This article was first published on December 1, 2014.
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