Singapore – Taxi and private-hire vehicle (PHV) drivers continue struggling to make ends meet five months into Phase Two of exiting the Circuit Breaker. Members of the public, however, highlighted that drivers continue to be picky with passengers.
A straitstimes.com report on Sunday (Nov 22) highlighted the ongoing plight of taxi and PHV drivers amid the Covid-19 pandemic, noting they spend more time roaming the streets without passengers, some earning just enough to breakeven.
According to the Land Transport Authority addressing queries from The Sunday Times, ridership during the first week of November was at 75 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels. Consequently, drivers and taxi companies estimated it was slightly above 66 per cent.
For instance, taxi driver Shaik Ismail, 39, used to make 13 to 14 trips a day the past two years following a schedule of 7 am to 3 pm. Currently, it is difficult for him to reach 10 trips even after adding another two hours on the streets. Mr Shaik now earns about S$120 a day compared to S$200 last year.
Drivers are also choosing to queue instead of roving around the area due to the lack of passengers hailing them down. Another driver, Benny Tay, who works under Gojek, admitted this could be because many are still working from home. “The shorter rides (between or in heartland areas) are obviously cheaper, so this impacts our earnings,” he told straitstimes.com.
In response to the news, members from the online community wondered why there appears to be some discrepancy between taxi drivers looking for passengers and passengers failing to get a ride.
“Really? Go look at how many taxis zoom past with passengers hailing by the side of the road,” commented Facebook user Derrick Goh. “And some cabbies are still choosing rides.” The concerned citizen mentioned it was challenging to book a PHV, especially during peak periods. There was also a high chance of cancellations. “So much for ‘roaming the streets,'” he added. “Drivers are still picking and choosing who they take as passengers and where they want to go,” said Facebook user Aneet Kaur.
Facebook user Iroquois Fowler Miken shared the same sentiments. “I find it strange that so many taxi drivers still reject me and other people for our rides while we queue up at taxi stands.” She noted that the taxis had their overhead sign set to green, indicating they were available. “But will ask where we are going and then promptly reject us.”
“This still happens now. I thought taxi drivers will be more willing to take up jobs now, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it’s still happening. It’s a major reason why most people now choose not to take taxis and will rather book a Grab/GoJek/Ryder ride now,” added Ms Iroquois. Her comment received agreement from other netizens.
Ms Iroquois confirmed with taxi companies that drivers were not allowed to put up the green signal and reject passengers. “They are supposed to put up the ‘changing shift’ or ‘hired’ sign for such cases.”
Meanwhile, other passengers mentioned they have also stopped taking taxis in general as a cost-cutting measure amid the financial strain caused by the pandemic. “We live in an interdependent world,” said Facebook user Kh Myec Anna. “One loss will affect the other. Hopefully, things will get better in 2021.”