Coronavirus: ComfortDelGro to trial plastic shields in cabs

Taxi driver Koh Tian Moo, 66, demonstrating how he can collect money from a passenger through "window" openings in the plastic shield. Measuring 1m by 0.7m by 0.6m, the shield encases only the driver's cabin area and does not obstruct airflow in the
Taxi driver Koh Tian Moo, 66, demonstrating how he can collect money from a passenger through "window" openings in the plastic shield. Measuring 1m by 0.7m by 0.6m, the shield encases only the driver's cabin area and does not obstruct airflow in the rest of the cab.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Taxi giant ComfortDelGro Corp will fit 400 of its 10,000 cabs with plastic shields which separate the driver from passengers.

The listed company said yesterday that the move is a trial to see how drivers and commuters respond to the protective barrier.

The shield is made of a hard, transparent plastic material "which aims to minimise contact between cabbies and their passengers, and hopefully reduce the spread of Covid-19", ComfortDelGro said, adding that each shield costs around $200.

Cabbies and private-hire drivers were among the first to be infected when the coronavirus surfaced in Singapore in January.

ComfortDelGro said installation has started, and about 50 taxis will be fitted each week.

Called V-shield, the locally ma-nufactured shields have been trademarked by Moove Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of ComfortDelGro.

Measuring 1m by 0.7m by 0.6m, the shield covers the driver's ca-bin entirely, and has two "window" openings for passengers to make payment.

The shields are said to be unbreakable, which allows them to also serve as an added protec-tion against any "violent physi-cal harm".

The shield encases only the driver's cabin area and does not obstruct airflow in the rest of the cab, the company said.

 
 
 

ComfortDelGro Taxi chief executive Ang Wei Neng said: "Our cabbies are exposed to passengers throughout the day and night.

"While our drivers take as much precaution as they can by wearing masks and constantly disinfecting their cabs, there is still a risk. These shields will further reduce that level of risk as they serve as an added layer of protection for the cabbies."

Earlier this month, the Royal Thai Air Force unveiled plastic shields for taxis in Thailand.

Singapore cabby Henry Tay, 49, said the shield is no guarantee against infection.

"Even well-equipped medical staff get infected," he said. "My concern is drivers and passengers might assume they will be safe with the shield. Then, they might take things too lightly."

Mr Tay added that personal measures are more important. "For me, every time a passenger alights, I lower down all the windows and disinfect the entire taxi with Dettol before picking up another passenger."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2020, with the headline 'ComfortDelGro to trial plastic shields in cabs'. Print Edition | Subscribe