61-year-old man finally passes taxi licence test after failing it for 79 times

SINGAPORE - A 61-year-old man has finally fulfilled his dream of becoming a taxi driver - after passing a required test on his 80th attempt.

The man, identified as Mr Shi Zhao Lin by evening daily Lianhe Wanbao, finally scored a pass on April 9 after failing the test 79 times. He scored 43 points, exceeding the minimum passing score of 40.

Mr Shi said he had struggled with the written test because of his poor command of English.

After his story was reported by Wanbao earlier this month, help came his way. A tutor offered to give him English lessons.

He was quoted as saying: "The tutor went through with me sample test questions, and highlighted the keywords I should pay attention to. Because of that, I had a better grasp of what I would be tested on and that helped me perform better in the test."

The Employment and Employability Institute (e2i) also approached him with training and employment opportunities. Mr Shi said he plans to take up a course at the institute to further improve his command of English.

He said he is expected to get his taxi driver's licence in about three week's time.

Mr Shi, who is now working as an aircon repairman, said he is hoping to raise the $1,000 deposit needed for renting a taxi.

There is no minimum educational qualification for those who wish to become a taxi driver. The Land Transport Authority, however, requires cabbies to be able to speak and write basic English.

Applicants must also pass a taxi driving course conducted by the National Trades Union Congress-linked Singapore Taxi Academy. The course covers topics like using the street directory, road safety and customer service exercises such as practising how to help passengers in wheelchairs.

After the classes, trainees have to pass a series of tests comprising multiple-choice questions, and show that they can handle wheelchairs properly.