Taxi drivers have seen income plummeted due to fewer tourist arrivals and an increase in number of people working from home because of the Covid-19 situation.
SMRT said it has been supporting its drivers through a multi-million dollar fund, as well as the waiver of taxi rental fees for those drivers under quarantine. They are also working with relevant agencies to help its taxi and other point-to-point drivers retrain and find short-term jobs.
ComfortDelGro, together with the government, has extended help in the form of rental rebates and one-time payments. However, according to the company, these are inadequate measures. “Excluding rental rebates, the drop is as much as 42 per cent in net income and a smaller 22 per cent with the rebates. With the situation expected to persist, many are finding it difficult to make ends meet.” , the company said.
An alternative as bus captain
SMRT and ComfortDelGro are also offering their taxi drivers an alternative job to be bus captains.
SMRT provides taxi and bus services under its SMRT Road Holdings group, whereas ComfortDelGro operates ComfortDelGro Taxi and SBS Transit.
” ComfortDelGro said that is offering these taxi drivers a one-time sign-on bonus of S$3,000 which will be paid out in three tranches:
“The first tranche of S$500 will be given out when they complete their training at the Bus Captain Driving Centre, the second tranche of S$1,500 will be handed out in the first six months, and the remaining S$1,000 on their first work anniversary.”
New taxi drivers-turn-bus captains will be paired with a mentor who will aid them in transiting into their new job.
To date, SBS Transit has 168 bus captains who used to be taxi drivers or private-hire drivers.
ComfortDelGro Managing Director and Group CEO, Yang Ban Seng said:
“These are difficult times. The focus of the day is survival. As a Group, we are very clear that we want to do all we can to help our people as things get progressively worse. Our cabbies may not be our staff but they are definitely one of us — people we have worked closely with for years and we want to ensure that they are looked after. Our message to them is stay with us, let’s try to ride this out together but if you really have to give up your taxi, think about being a bus captain. You are welcome there.”
Both companies will give interested taxi drivers the relevant training before they are deployed as bus captains.” ”