Trans-Cab to scrap 80 taxis that failed inspection

CNG vehicles made the headlines after two Toyota Wish Trans-Cab taxis, powered by the gas, caught fire in the past month.
CNG vehicles made the headlines after two Toyota Wish Trans-Cab taxis, powered by the gas, caught fire in the past month. PHOTO: ST READER

Eighty compressed natural gas-powered (CNG) Trans-Cab taxis have failed Land Transport Authority (LTA) inspections that were called for after two such cabs caught fire in the past month.

A Trans-Cab spokesman said yesterday that all 80 cabs, which are about six to seven years old, will be scrapped.

Two other Yellow Top taxis also failed the inspection.

The Trans Cab spokesman also said the firm is exploring "more stringent measures" for its CNG cabs to ensure leaks do not occur, adding that its taxis undergo monthly maintenance.

Meanwhile, even before the spotlight fell on CNG vehicles here following two recent fires, drivers had been turning away from them, citing the hassle of refuelling and servicing.

A 29-year-old motorist, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lai, said he stopped using the CNG cylinder in his nine-year- old Toyota Rush after a leak two years ago.

The music instructor filled it only yesterday in order to go for inspections, which checked for leaks, among other issues. "I'll change to a non-CNG model next year when my COE (certificate of entitlement) expires," he said.

Mr Andrew Tan, 40, has had no problems with the CNG cylinder in his nine-year-old Mitsubishi Outlander, but he too is considering switching to a non-CNG model.

"It will cost me too much to just remove the cylinder," said Mr Tan, who is self-employed.

He said the lack of CNG stations - there are only three here - makes refuelling a hassle.

The CNG-petrol car population hit a high of 2,706 seven years ago on the back of significant rebates, but has since dwindled to 1,650, or less than 1 per cent of the car population.

The number of CNG taxis has also dropped drastically, from 2,836 in 2011 to just 964 now.

Numbers have been declining since 2012 when tariffs were imposed on CNG, and rebates on CNG vehicles were reduced after it was found that they were not significantly cleaner than conventional petrol models.

CNG vehicles made the headlines after two Toyota Wish Trans-Cab taxis, powered by the gas, caught fire in the past month. The two taxis have been sent for "further investigations and rectifications", said the LTA.

The fires prompted the LTA to order inspections on all CNG vehicles here as a precautionary measure.

•Additional reporting by Charmaine Ng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 26, 2017, with the headline 'Trans-Cab to scrap 80 taxis that failed inspection'. Print Edition | Subscribe