Asia

Additional $27 million of support for cabbies, private-hire drivers amid 'significant' fall in ridership

SINGAPORE – Private-hire car and taxi drivers will receive additional daily cash support from this week till the end of June, as the Government has set aside an additional $27 million to support them amid a significant drop in ridership during the current heightened alert period.

In total, drivers will receive $25 per vehicle per day, up from the existing $15 per vehicle per day. This works out to $750 per vehicle per month until the end of June.

The additional payout will benefit the 16,000 taxi drivers and 40,000 private-hire car drivers here, said Transport Minister S. Iswaran at a press conference on Friday (May 21).

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Friday that the additional support from the one-off top-up to the Covid-19 Driver Relief Fund (CDRF) is in addition to the $188 million in CDRF payments that has already been committed from January to June.

LTA said it will work with taxi and private-hire car operators to implement the enhanced CDRF by the end of this month.

“We recognise that taxi and (private-hire car) drivers need urgent targeted assistance to tide through this period so that they can continue providing sustainable taxi and (private-hire car) services for Singapore commuters,” it said.

Preliminary data showed that taxi and private-hire car ridership has declined significantly since stricter Covid-19 measures kicked in on Sunday, said LTA.

Such ridership was at about 80 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels before phase two (heightened alert) measures kicked in, said Mr Iswaran. Since then, it has fallen to about 55 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels.

“So it’s been a material drop, and we have to also see what the impact of…some of the measures that just came into force like home-based learning,” he said. “We have to still see the effect of that play out,  so that is something that we will continue to observe.”

Under the new restrictions, people are allowed to be out in groups of only two. Dining in at eateries is not allowed and working from home is once again the default.

Taxis and private-hire vehicles can ferry only two passengers at a time, unless the passengers are from the same household.

In addition, all primary, secondary, junior college and Millenia Institute students, including students from special education schools have since shifted to full home-based learning until May 28.

The new support measures were devised after consultation with the National Taxi Association (NTA), the National Private Hire Vehicles Association (NPHVA), as well as the taxi and private-hire car operators, said the authority.

All cabbies and private-hire car drivers who are eligible for the CDRF will automatically receive the top-up through their operators.

LTA said the Government is also looking into further extending CDRF payments beyond June, given that ridership is likely to take time to recover after the end of the heightened alert period.

Earlier this week, ComfortDelGro, Singapore’s largest taxi operator, raised its daily rental waiver for its cabbies to 50 per cent per vehicle to help cushion the blow of the stricter Covid-19 measures.

Other taxi operators have also committed to providing additional discounts on rental fees of at least $5 a day. This is on top of the daily $10 rental discount that their drivers already receive.

In total, taxi operators have pledged around $28 million in additional taxi rental discounts, LTA said.

Meanwhile, Grab is also providing rebates to its drivers and rental waivers for Grab rental drivers, and Gojek has reduced commissions for its drivers, the LTA noted.

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