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Taxi firms fall short on new rules

FINED: One reason Prime (orange taxis) was fined $74,500 was for failing to have the required percentage of taxis plying the roads during peak periods.


    Sep 10, 2014

    Taxi firms fall short on new rules

    MOST cab companies here have failed to meet stricter taxi availability standards that took effect earlier this year, with one even fined over them.

    A six-month report card from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) showed that only two of the six taxi firms here - Comfort and CityCab - met most of the standards consistently.

    Prime, which has the smallest fleet here with about 880 cabs, was fined $74,500 for not having the required percentage of taxis plying the roads during peak periods or meeting the minimum daily mileage of 250km.

    The other three firms - Premier, TransCab and SMRT - had occasional lapses for these two requirements.

    But the new standards have benefited commuters a little. The overall percentage of taxis on the roads during peak periods has improved from 82 per cent in 2012 to 87 per cent in the first five months of the year. This is about 1,300 more taxis.

    The percentage of taxis plying at least 250km daily has also increased from 75 per cent to 78 per cent over the same period.

    The taxi utilisation rate, or the proportion of total taxi mileage under hire throughout the day, has increased from about 65 per cent to 68 per cent.

    "In other words, more taxis are plying the roads and commuters are using them," LTA said.

    The taxi availability standards were introduced last year, to ensure that the 28,000 cabs here are better used and that more taxis are there to serve commuters. But these were enforced only from this year to give companies more time to adjust.

    Cab firms are required to have 80 per cent of their taxis on the roads during the peak hours of 7am to 11am, and 5pm to 11pm.

    Between 6am and 7am, and 11pm to midnight, the requirement is 60 per cent.

    Also, 80 per cent of a firm's fleet is expected to meet a minimum daily mileage of 250km.

    While some cab companies have not kept pace, they are looking into ways to boost their performance.

    TransCab, for example, has rolled out a monthly $100 incentive this year for drivers who meet LTA's standards, said general manager Jasmine Tan.

    About half of TransCab's fleet - or around 1,950 taxis - are compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles.

    The inconvenience of having to refuel at TransCab's CNG station in Old Toh Tuck Road means many TransCab taxis do not have a relief driver, said Ms Tan.

    As for SMRT, it has initiatives such as a hirer-relief matching service to encourage drivers to share a vehicle, said Patrick Nathan, vice-president of corporate and information communications.