Two new taxi models for Singapore roads

Trans-Cab has ordered 500 turbodiesel Renault Latitudes (left) while Premier Taxi has bought 50 Toyota Prius petrol-electric hybrids.
Trans-Cab has ordered 500 turbodiesel Renault Latitudes (left) while Premier Taxi has bought 50 Toyota Prius petrol-electric hybrids.PHOTOS: WEARNES, PREMIER TAXI
Trans-Cab has ordered 500 turbodiesel Renault Latitudes (left) while Premier Taxi has bought 50 Toyota Prius petrol-electric hybrids.
Trans-Cab has ordered 500 turbodiesel Renault Latitudes (left) while Premier Taxi has bought 50 Toyota Prius petrol-electric hybrids.PHOTOS: WEARNES, PREMIER TAXI

They join array of over 30 available and come with higher flagdown rates

Two new models have joined Singapore's already bewildering array of taxis.

And both will cost commuters more in flagdown fares.

Trans-Cab, the country's second-largest operator, has ordered 500 turbodiesel Renault Latitudes - the first Renault cabs here. Its flagdown rate is $3.90, versus $3.20 for other normal cabs and as low as $3 for the older vehicles.

Premier Taxi, the third smallest player, has bought 50 Toyota Prius petrol-electric hybrids, which are a larger and newer variant of the Priuses used by Prime Taxis. The flagdown fare for this new environmentally friendlier taxi is $3.50.

They join a variety of more than 30 models of taxis on the road here.

Trans-Cab chief executive Teo Kiang Ang said the higher flagdown rate was necessary to offset the higher certificate of entitlement premiums.

"We thought COE would be around $50,000, but now, it's over $70,000. Very high," Mr Teo said.

The South Korean-made Latitude is also roomier. According to Renault Singapore, it is the biggest and most spacious car in its class.

Premier Taxi was not available for comment on its new choice of taxis nor its higher flagdown rate.

The Straits Times understands, however, that the company enjoys some savings by choosing a hybrid, which qualifies for a $30,000 tax rebate because of its low carbon emissions.

At the same time, it is not liable for the annual diesel tax of $5,100.

Commuters have mixed feelings about the higher flagdown rates.

Mr Michael Dee, 56, said: "It should be cheaper to ride in a hybrid cab, not costlier."

The private investor said he typically avoids cabs with higher flagdown rates, except when he needs the larger MaxiCab.

Taxi flagdown rates range from $3 to $5. The latter is for the Chrysler 300C.

Lawyer Bryan Tan, 42, said the flagdown fare makes up an insignificant portion of the entire fare.

"Most times, you're just thankful there's a cab, and you just hop in. But I must say, I've not taken the Chrysler."

christan@sph.com.sg