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Open letter asking SMRT to reduce burden for taxi drivers who choose to stay with the company

James Lim, a taxi driver and 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 which burdens the taxi drivers with higher running cost. He hopes that the company can help to lower the operating cost for taxi drivers like him who "are committed with SMRT to battle the private-hire car drivers, come what may."

Dear Sir,

Re : Appeal for a Reduction in SMRT TaxiShare Rental Rate

I am writing to you Sir, to earnestly appeal for a reduction of the taxi rental rate under your SMRT TaxiShare scheme.

Besides being a regular customer, I enthusiastically encourage my taxi buddies to join your awesome scheme which provides flexible driving hours.

I salute you for your ingenious taxi sharing scheme is extremely popular with the taxi drivers and has helped SMRT to reduce idling assets which is waiting for the catastrophic eruption.

Regrettably, SMRT has arbitrarily increased the rental rate within a short period after the scheme inception. In May 2017, the hourly rate was $5.55 from 7am to 5pm. Now, the hourly rate is $6.80 for the same period...an increase of about 22.5% after 5 months and without sound justification, Your steep rental increase has burdened my buddies and me with higher running cost and made your scheme less attractive.

I hope SMRT is not killing the goose that lays the golden egg..an unwise action motivated by greed.

Nowadays, taxi drivers face immense competitions on the road. Apart from competing with a colossal number of Uber/Grab private-hire cars for booking jobs, we had to race with other taxi drivers from Transcab, ComfortDelgro, Premier for street-hail rides, which are sadly few, to begin with. Therefore, to earn a decent daily income, we have to drive longer hours, inevitably resulting in higher rental and fuel costs.

As you know, many taxi drivers had jumped ship to join the Uber/Grab as private hire car driver but not us. We are professional full-time taxi drivers, not inactive vocational taxi licence holders, retired or retiring drivers and are committed with SMRT to battle the private-hire car drivers, come what may.

At this tough time, I hope SMRT could help comrades like us to lower our operating costs such as reducing the rental rates, improve incentives, consider share taxi ownership or any scheme that’s a win-win for SMRT and Drivers.

With improved conditions for the drivers, SMRT and drivers can surely overcome any obstacles that come our way, keeping the taxi battleship afloat together.

Yours sincerely,

James Lim