Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Life of a Singaporean Cabby - Part 2.



Welcome back!!


I'm pleasantly surprised and pleased that many of my readers are interested or curious enough to read about the life of an ordinary Singaporean taxi driver. Maybe it's something refreshing from the daily staple of "abrasive" posts blog sphere. Sorry, no offense intended at fellow bloggers. So, here it goes, the continuation of my preceding post.

(1) how do cabbies handle accidents?

Based on the simple theory of probability, I get into more traffic accidents than others simply because I spend more time on the road than a normal driver. And I got into all kinds of traffic accidents, fortunately, none fatal.

When an accident happens, I'll determine whether it's fatal or otherwise. In case of a fatal accident and I'm not seriously injured, the first thing I do is to call for an ambulance and police and render whatever help I can to the victims before the authorities arrive. The rest I'll leave it to the traffic police to handle. I'll call for my company's tow truck and take some photographs as evidence.

For non-fatal accidents without major damages to vehicles, I'll try to settle the case amicably on the spot with the other party and with the signing of a standard indemnity form . If settlement is not possible or vehicles suffered damages, I'll exchange particulars with the other party, take photos and report to my company the following day.

Usually, my company will deduct a thousand dollars from my deposit immediately, pending the outcome of culpability. My maximum liability is a $1000, irrespective of whatever insurance claims from third party.

If I suffered injuries or whiplash and is absolutely certain that the other party is at fault, I'll engage a lawyer to claim for personal compensation. In such cases, the company will also reimburse the hirer ( not relief driver ) $80 per day for lost of income and suspend rental for the downtime of cabs inside workshop. But, if a driver gets into too many accidents, the company usually sack him.

Presently, many cabbies install CCTV camera to continuously record the traffic situation ahead and behind their taxi (not inside). In case of accidents, the videos images recorded are indisputable evidences for insurance claims. From my experience, it's always better to get the police involved, as the other party sometime twist their police report, with help from their workshop experts to pin you at fault and exaggerate their claim. 

2) how do u handle belonging left behind by passengers?

Depending of the "value" of the items left behind and whether my call center contact me on the matter instantly, I'll usually trash the "cheap stuff" like umbrella, slippers, shoes, costume jewellery, magazine at the end of my shift. But I'll return sentimental and expensive items like photo album, cellphones, cameras, wallets, schoolbags to my office the next day. My office staff will take over from there.

If my passenger is able to contact me on the same night, I'll return it instantly but usually I'll request them to compensate me for the fare. Most passengers are more than happy to accept my request but some do refuse and say it's my duty to return their lost items. In that case, I'll ask them to collect it from my office. I think it's fair.

3. Do u have regular customers?

I don't have regular customers nor take advance booking jobs because I prefer freedom in my job and do not like to be tired down with a fixed pick-up jobs. But if somebody wants to travel regularly from Jurong to Orchard at the start of my night shift, I would certainly oblige because I'm assured of a good fare and a quick passenger at Orchard when my customer disembarked. Some of my buddies do have regular customers usually at the start or towards the end of their shift. 

(4) what do cabbies chat about during coffeeshop drinking sessions?

Usually around 4am, my taxi buddies and I would gather at our regular hangout at a coffee shop in Jurong East Central to have our supper and share our night's driving adventures. Each driver would have some real life story to tell but it would normally center around some passenger's unreasonable attitude and other trivial matters. We don't talk about politics or religion.

Some tells hoary jokes while others relate boringly details of each of their trip. After a while, such stories and jokes became dull and boring because of repetitious theme. However, once in a while, someone would come out with an astonishingly humorous tale that got everyone standing on their toes, with open mouth and watery eyes from laughter.

We don't chat on political or religious matters often because these are highly sensitives, contentious and subjective subjects. Anyway, most of us are not that smart to touch on these subject intelligently. At most, we chat superficially based on "hear-say".

(5) have the casinos boosted ridership?

Yes, the two casinos had boosted ridership but as time goes by, passengers at these casinos had dwindled. Many must have lost their pants.  Some couldn't pay the full fare at the end of the trip. dumb skull!

(6) does taxi companies raise taxi rental fees? 

Yes, but not often. COMFORT maintains the same rental in the last five years for a Sonata taxi. But with increasing COE price, operating costs, inflation, improved cabby taking etc....taxi rental will surely increase in a matter of time.

(7) what are the advantages of doing night shift?

It's common knowledge that night shift taxi drivers taking is much more than a day driver because of the additional CBD, midnight and longer hours of peak hour surcharge. A night driver do less trips with fewer customers in the night but earns more and drives in less congested roads with cooler weather. But they spend more on fuel because they often have to cruise empty without passengers from heartland to city

8) What it takes to be a Singaporean cabby apart from what you've related? 

Driving a taxi is an occupation that is often associated with hardship among a large segment of Singaporeans. When PMET lose their jobs due to retrenchment or economic crises, driving a taxi become a viable option as a last resort. 

It takes a certain kind of temperament to be a taxi driver. If you don't like to meet people, don't ever be a taxi driver, because you are going to meet a lot of them.

Ego must be crushed. Forget about your glory days. But remember to love oneself and be proud of everything one do is important. 

Most passengers are kind, understanding and law abiding. But some are "M.F." . Ignore them. They are with you for only a few minutes. This quote says : "If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire, then you got a problem. Everything else is inconvenience" 


Cabbies Protesting in London
                                                            
  

12 comments:

Padaly said...

Datuk Taxi,
Thks for the insightful article. This is one of the few jobs not penetrated by FTs yet! Let's hope that it stay that way. Good luck.

unbrandedbreadnbutter said...

cool stuff. where is the best massage in spore?

James Lim said...

Hi, Padaly,

Thks for your compliment. Yes, this occupation is still not penetrated by PR or FT yet. But it's a question of time only. Sooner or later, the government linked taxi companies will appeal to the establishment to tweak their policies to allow "penetration", when too many of their taxis are laying idling at their garages as dead assets. But don't forget, nearly 100,000 votes are at stake!

James Lim said...

Hi, unbrandedbreadnbutter,

You've nice & cheeky comments. Well, I hardly goes to massages. It's expensive and I can't afford it. But, from buddies I do know of some shops at Fu Lu Shou Building that "teau goo pai bouy kow ba" in Hokkien. meaning "advertise beef but sells dog meats behind".

Anonymous said...

Hi ixat san, great post.

Just wondering how often you encounter passengers who refuse to pay or do the quick disappearing act on arrival at destination? How do you handle them?

James Lim said...

Lucky for me, I encountered only two incidents of fare cheats during the last 8 yrs. Not too bad. The first incident involved 2 young punks running off on arrival at destination. Too old to chase them. Second, the young female dismounted angrily and her male partner pretended to get her back with my permission but they never return. It was a ploy to cheat me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Datuk Taxi,

Is it difficult to pass the Taxi course? I heard from some people that the classrooms are installed with CCTV. Any idea why this is because we would understand why there is a need to install CCTV at exam rooms but for the classrooms also.

James Lim said...

Taxi course is NOT difficult to pass but you must study hard for it esp. the rules/regulation and landmark/routes part. I know of someone (Chinese educated) who took the test 5 times and in the end he still passed.

I'm not sure CCTV is installed in classroom. Final exam is taken at Taxi Academy in Redhill Rd.

Anonymous said...

I took a cab 2 day ago , the cab driver told me aready PRC driving taxi driver now .

James Lim said...

It's not true that PRC can drive taxi in S'pore. Only S'pore citizen are allowed to drive cab here. Maybe the PRC came here as a work permit holder, married a S'porean, became a P.R. and eventually became a citizen. If so, then he can drive a cab here.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Recently I got into a really minor accident with a taxi. Will the old taxis have camera? It was just a kiss at the traffic light. The taxi has no bums dents or whatsoever because the knock is so light.
But I still gave him my number. He said he will call me back. But next I receive a call from my insurance company that the taxi driver is filing a claim against me. I do not have the taxi driver's contact because he didn't wanted to give me. Is there anyway I can resolve it with him?

Lim James said...

Hi, Annon,

Apparently, you had the misfortune of getting into a minor accident with an unscrupulous taxi driver who is out to claim personal compensation from whiplash. Eventually he will get about 2k as compensation. Are you willing to pay that amount to him personally?. If not, let your insurance company take care of his claim. Never trust the other party in case of a traffic accident.