Taxicabs of Singapore

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A Comfort-DelGro owned Hyundai i40 Sedan taxi in Singapore.
A SilverCab owned Kia Optima K5 taxi in Singapore.
A TransCab owned Renault Latitude taxi in Singapore.

Taxicabs are a popular form of public transport in the compact sovereign city-state of Singapore, with fares considered relatively low compared to those in most cities in developed countries. As of May 2014, the total taxi fleet in Singapore is 27,709 taxis, operated by six taxi companies and 238 independent drivers.[1]

Within the country's ethnic Chinese population, taxis are colloquially called 德士 (déshì). Similar to Hong Kong, the name derives from the English term "Taxi".

Taxis may be flagged down at any time of the day along any public road outside of the Central Business District (CBD). Issues of high traffic and demand in certain locations and areas, particularly in the downtown area and other major buildings and establishments around the island, require the building of taxi stands. As taxis may conversely be harder to obtain in less densely populated areas, as well as to meet the needs of time-sensitive users, taxis may be booked via telephone or through the internet for a fee, which is then transmitted to individual taxis via a Global Positioning System or digital voice dispatch.

In peak travel times, which in the evening starts at 4PM due to shift changes through to 8 PM it is virtually impossible to book a taxi, outside of peak travel times booking is advisable. During peak travel times, it is extremely difficult and not recommended to rely upon taxi travel, either travel out of peak or risk the MRT. Booking during peak travel times can be frustrating, the system instructs the caller to hang up and await SMS confirmation - usually in peak demand time following a 7–10 minute wait the caller will receive an sms stating that there are no taxis currently available and that they should try again in 10 minutes, this can be repeated several times up to 10 attempted bookings in an hour, at which point the caller is barred from trying to book a cab for at least the remainder of that hour.

Stringent requirements ensure that all taxis are fitted with meters and are air-conditioned and serviceable. Drivers who fail to utilise their meters may be fined up to S$500, an enforced rule which brings fare disputes down to a minimum. About 90% of taxis have inbuilt AM radio communications.

Operations[edit]

Taxis are predominantly operated by large companies, which require a Taxi Operator Licence (TOL) from the Land Transport Authority (LTA). Holders of the TOL are required to comply with LTA's Quality of Service (QoS) standards, codes of practice and audit directions, failure of which the LTA may revoke the licence.

There are six taxi companies holding the TOL currently, namely:[1]

Holding company Taxi company TOL started in Fleet Brand Dominant
colour
Link
ComfortDelGro Corporation Comfort Transportation
CityCab
1970
1995
12,498
4,241
Comfort
CityCab
Blue
Yellow
[2]
SMRT Corporation SMRT Taxis 2003 (June) 3,243 SMRT White [3]
Trans-Cab Services Trans-Cab Services 2003 (August) 4,548 TRANS-cab Red [4]
Premier Corporation Premier Taxis 2003 (October) 2,037 Silvercab Silver [5]
Prime Leasing Prime Car Rental & Taxi Services 2007 904 PRIME TAXI Copper [6]
Total 27,471
(excluding 238 "Yellow-Top" taxis operated by individual driver-owners)[2]

All taxi drivers in Singapore are required to hold a valid Taxi Driver's Vocational Licence (TDVL) issued by the Land Transport Authority, after having met basic prerequisites and successfully completed a training course in the Singapore Taxi Academy and passing a theory test. Holders of the licence may then approach any of the taxi companies to hire a taxi on a daily rental basis, the rental rate and associated benefits of which vary among the various companies. As at May 2014, there were a total of 99,913 TDVL holders in Singapore.[1]

Fares[edit]

Fares on Singapore's taxis are considered relatively affordable and even "cheap",[3] and are thus a popular form of public transportation in Singapore, particularly for the upper-middle income groups. Taxi fares were regulated by the Public Transport Council until September 1998 to allow operators full freedom in setting their own fares in a bid to introduce greater competition in the market.

In July 2006, ComfortDelGro raised fares for all three operators under its umbrella, and SMRT Taxis and TransCab followed suit [7]. Premier Taxis adjusted its fares differently by only increasing some fare components, while SmartCab chose not to raise its fares at all, resulting in the most marked price differentiation between the companies since deregulation in 1998. One month later, it was reported that these fare adjustments had resulted in a drop of up to 20% in earnings for taxi drivers.[4]

All taxi fares are metered, and it is an offence for taxi drivers to disable, tamper with, or fail to use their metering devices. Drivers found guilty may be fined up to S$500.

On 10 December 2007, ComfortDelGro announced another revision in fares with increases ranging from 10 to 49%, due for implementation by 17 December 2007. It called on other taxi companies to follow its fare structure "as soon as possible".[5] On 11 July 2008, ComfortDelGro announced the implementation of a $0.30 fuel surcharge starting from 17 July.[6] Other taxi companies except Prime Taxis followed suit with different implementation dates.

On 5 December 2011, ComfortDelGro announced a second revision in fares with increases by 20 cents and 70 cents.[7]

A London cab at Raffles Place, Singapore. Along with various premium vehicles, such as the Mercedes-Benz taxicabs, they charge premium booking rates.

Vehicle types[edit]

In 1966, the first diesel Yellow-Top taxi was the Mercedes Benz 180 followed by the Austin Cambridge A60, Morris Oxford and Wolseley 16/60 during of the era. In the 1970s there was the Mercedes Benz W114/W115. The Austin Cambridge A60 and Morris Oxford continued until the early 1980s followed by models of the Opel Rekord D, Peugeot 504, Morris Marina and the Russian made model Volga Gaz 24.

In the mid 1980s, the staple vehicles for all operators were the Toyota Crown, Nissan Cedric and Isuzu Florian. These were stripped-down versions of their Japanese luxury-car siblings, with an emphasis on operating costs over comfort. Cheap plastic fittings and PVC seats replaced materials such as wood and leather, insulation was removed to save weight, and early generation diesel engines replaced the original petrol units. The resulting vehicles were simple to maintain and extremely reliable, but were lacking in comfort, with very high levels of NVH.

The move by various operators to various makes and models of premium vehicles came largely as a result of Euro IV regulations, which came into effect in late 2006. The older diesel engines in the Crown and Cedric are unable to meet the new emissions standards, and these taxis will no longer be offered for sale.

The newer taxicabs benefit from vastly improved interiors and more advanced engines with lower emissions and noise levels, which used to be the preserve of the premium Mercedes-Benz "limousine" services.

ComfortDelgro announced it would acquire a fleet of 6,800 Hyundai Sonatas and Hyundai i40 from 2007 to 2014 to replace the retiring Nissan Cedric and Toyota Crown, during which it will separately own the taxicabs for the rest of the life.

All taxicabs in Singapore have to pay the much higher road tax applied to diesel-powered passenger cars, which was intended to deter people from using diesel-powered vehicles for private use. This road tax bill is footed by the taxi company (except for STTA taxis), and can be as high as S$6,300 annually. However, some operators are trialling vehicles powered by natural gas, which are not only exempted from diesel taxes, but are also given waivers on road tax intended to offset the higher cost of ownership and to make them more attractive for the early adoptors of the cleaner vehicles. Taxicab models used in Singapore are mostly Korean-made, followed by Japanese and others.

All of these vehicles (except for MPV taxis) seat 4 passengers unless otherwise stated. Passengers are required by law to wear seat belts.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]