Mr James Lim, a 70-year-old SMRT taxi driver, emailed to The Independent – after his appeal to SMRT for a reduced taxi rental rate turned out to be met with a hike, not long after the last increase on 23 August, according to Mr Lim.
On 28 september, Mr Lim, also a blogger at Diary of a Singaporean Cabby, wrote an open letter addressed to Mr Tony Heng Yew Teck, Managing Director of SMRT’s Taxi & Private Hire Service, stating that the company has increased rental rates of its taxi after introducing the SMRT TaxiShare scheme without sound justification, burdening the taxi drivers with higher running cost. He hopes that the company can help lower the operating cost for taxi drivers like him who “are committed to SMRT to battle the private-hire car drivers, come what may.”
In the letter, he also pointed out that “many taxi drivers had jumped ship to join the Uber/Grab as private hire car driver” and suggested that a lower rental will “improve incentives” and will lead to “a win-win for SMRT and Drivers”.
On 2 October, he was shocked by the “change” made – instead of a reduction, there was a new increase in the rental rates from $61.20 to $67.20 for 9 hours booking from 7am to 4pm.
According to Mr Lim, he has been working as a taxi driver for about five to six years. Since SMRT Taxis in Jan rolled out taxi-sharing scheme aimed at providing drivers with greater work flexibility, Mr Lim, along with other taxi drivers were attracted to driving the taxis as leisure.
Under the scheme, persons with a valid Taxi Driver Vocational Licence can rent these taxis on an hourly basis, for a minimum of three hours. It is also believed to be a way to make better use of the company’s vehicles, with more than a hundred of which are sitting idle, according to TODAY.
“It’s suitable for me. My age is too old to drive for a 12-hour shift. The scheme is flexible with no contract needed,” Mr Lim said.
Mr Lim said that usually he earns profit at about $100 for 10 hours. “However, if I would drive for fewer number of hours, the revenue can barely cover the rental costs.”
Mr Lim conjured that the reason behind the raise might be due to a growing popularity of the scheme.