Tuesday 12 March 2013

London Cabs And Mobile App to find Cabs.

In today's Straits Times, there were two interesting news articles on taxi matters. The first article is a letter to ST forum on affordability of London cabs and the last is about a mobile application to help commuters find taxis faster. This old "fart" would like to add a few more words on them.

30 free London cabs for SMRT

A. London Cab Affordability.

Yes, taking the new SMRT's London cab is not going to be cheap on all counts, especially for the wheelchair-bound commuters. Standard booking fee for the London cab is $10 or $18 for advance booking. Compared to booking fees of a normal taxi, it's 67% and 72%  more expensive respectively. Sadly, some wheelchair-bound commuters can only take this London cab because it has higher ceiling to accommodate their bigger wheelchair. In addition, only through call booking they can get a London cab because they cannot be waiting along the road hoping to flag a London cab out of a miserable 30 available in Singapore.

The plights of the wheelchair-bound commuters were prominently reported in the local media and I did two postings on this matter too. (Link 1)and (Link 2)

In summary, I hope our ex-Rear Admiral, Mr. Lui Tuck Yew and his comrades in PAP would consider the following earnest requests for aids by the handicapped commuters sympathetically.

1. Make London cabs more affordable by mandating SMRT to lower their fares, since Mr. Lui specially provided them with a grant of $3.1 millions from taxpayer's money to manage the 30 London cabs. SMRT should not be too greedy for profit with this type of cab used mainly by handicapped commuters. Perhaps, Ms. Ho Ching can lend a helping hand on this matter.

2. Provide London cab discount vouchers through MCD for handicapped commuters.

3. With aging population, increase grant to SMRT or others to get more London cabs to run on the roads.

4. Mandate all taxi operators to have a small percentage of London cabs in their fleet to service the handicapped community.
Be Merciful. Give a Helping Hand.

B. Mobile Application to help find a cab.

Yes, the A*Star invention will certainly help cabbies and taxi commuters "match-up" perfectly but the proof of the pudding is in its eating.

Mr. Christopher Tan is spot-on to say that taxi companies are not too thrilled by the prospect of a scheme that bypasses their own dispatch system.

Imagine Comfort's enormous lost in revenue from call bookings if this new mobile application is astronomically successful. Comfort charges $3.30 per booking and does about 20 million booking per year. (pardon me if figure is not perfect). $36 millions goes to cabbies and $10 millions to Comfort. A cabby earns about $200 per month from call booking on the average, while Comfort gets about $84,000 per month or $10 million a year.. I'm not too worried because I don't do much call booking.

Now, do you know that Comfort makes millions from NETS payment?. They charge an "administrative fee" of 30 cents per NETS transaction and does an average of about 20 millions NETS transactions a year. Therefore, they make a gross profit of about $6.6 millions a year just from NETS transactions. A cabby gets nothing,

A few more millions comes from their arbitrary and hefty10%  surcharge on credit & debit payments. But cabbies not only gets no monetary benefits whatsoever from these "cashless" payments, they had to wait two or three days for these "credit-fares" to be credited to their bank accounts. Therefore, understandably, cabbies prefer cash payment. Like many other "deals" with Comfort, cabbies always get the shot end of the stick.

As you call see, taxi operators and their system associates make millions from fringe services like Nets & credit/debit card payments, call bookings and advertisements on cabs, among others. So, it's not surprising that they would always try to muster as large a fleet of taxis as possible, with scant concern for cabbies survival.

Now, coming back to the mobile app, perhaps A*Star could invent something along the same principle of the mobile app to "match-up" many of the singles in Singapore to get married and produce more babies, so that we do not have to import so many foreigners to popup our population.


Chris said...

I'm a Londoner visiting Singapore now. When I wanted a black cab to take me from home to Paddington to catch the train to the airport, I used an app called Hail-o. I was able to schedule the cab's arrival to the minute, register a credit card to pay the cab, and track the cab prior to its arrival. When the cab was about to arrive, it sent me a picture of the driver with his name. He arrived to the second, took me to Paddington, and I paid him with the credit card I registered through the app (I didn't have to take the card out) and I could rate the cabby in the app as I left. I'm convinced and I'll never use a minicab again.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Chris,

Welcome to Singapore!!. I hope you have a good time here and will take back sweet memories of Singapore, particularly your experiences with local cabbies.

Your write-up of an app called Hail-o is interesting. Recently, someone in Singapore launched an almost similar app by UBER.

By the way, thanks for being a "Follower" of my blog.


James Lim

theonion said...


Enjoyed your blog and agree taxi rentals should have been reduced when the COEs were lower.

However, for you to claim that Comfort Delgro profits the entire amount from the bookings and NET services is misleading as those are earnings and not the actual profit since they would need to pay NETS and also to maintain equipment etc.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, theonion,

Yes, you're right. I thought it's an understood fact that there's always costs in any business and profit is always after less costs.

Anonymous said...

Dear James,
Just want to encourage you to carry on blogging bcos u are blessing many people. I found your insightful blog while researching whether to make a career switch, prior to registering at taxi academy. Your posts prepares me for what to expect prior to taking the plunge. Now i'm into my 3rd day of driving. Hope u continue to encourage n build us up (1 Thessalonians 5:11)

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Annon,

Welcome to the rank. If I'm not wrong, about 70% of those who become taxi drivers never switch to another job henceforth, if they maintain a positive job attitude and accept that this job will never make you rich. 99% of passengers in Singapore are decent people.

As a rookie, don't be shy to tell your passengers that you're a newbie and ask them to guide you to their destination, if possible. Normally, within 3 months, you'll be comfortable behind the wheel, as you would know most of the common places and routes.

Good Luck, buddy.

Anonymous said...

Hi James, it is really great to have you as a rare cabby blogger! You have indeed provided alot of insightful contents of the life of a taxi driver. I chanced upon your blog a month ago while I was contemplating on whether to take the TDVL course. I had read all your posts since then until I had to stop for a period as I soaked into the intensity and demand of the course. The tests for this course is demanding by standards and we were cautioned of the high "casualty" rate where there is only around 10% passing rate on record a one go with 4 modules to go through with short pee-break. I was lucky to be among the 10%, but deep down I am not subscribing to such demands from a course merely to qualify as a taxi driver in this small island. The standard is raised tremendously. I am sympathetic to those who could not make it at one go and gave to retake paying for each module with additional adminstrative fee until passing all. Well, even trying to earn a living as a taxi driver is not easy in Singapore, WTH! I really look forward to reading more of your postings and if fate facilitates, it is my pleasure to meet you in person when I start plying the road!

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Anon,

Thanks for your comments.

When I took my TLVL course about 6 yrs ago, I did a "pre-test" via SMRT's internet and did not have to attend lessons in classroom. After passing the internet course, I then went for the written test at LTA Taxi Academy. I passed after 2 tries. I was not easy esp. the routes & landmarks module.

I wish you good luck and safe driving as you embark on your new job, which could be quite interesting in the beginning but eventually becomes "routine & boring" like many other jobs.


Regards: James Lim

Ruby said...

Hi James,

I think it is understandable that Comfort, like any business company, always give cabbies the short end of the stick and only gives scant concern for their survival.

The relationship between cabbies and Comfort is not "Father & Son" and not even "Employer & Employee". In business relationships, everyone fights for their own survival and maximizes their own selfish gains.

Also, I think Comfort is reasonable to gain from the fringe services since the equipment and systems are set up and maintained by them.

I think 2 to 3 days wait for "credit-fares" is very reasonable. I used to think it is the usual business credit terms of 30 days.

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Unknown said...

Hi Mr James Lim.

I thought of taking up taxi driving as my career. But I have back problem, will prolong taxi driving cause more damage to my back?

How long does the course take? How much will it cost?

Please good very some advises.


Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

HI, alan au,

I'm not good at medical matters and I also don't know about your backache problem. So, I can't say whether prolong sitting inside a cab will aggravate your backache or not. But I can tell you that prolong sitting inside a cab will surely give you backache esp. if you're elderly and don't do exercise often.

Please click at http://www.taxi.org.sg/tdvl_course.html to find out about course details and costs (S$335)

James Lim

Unknown said...

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Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

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