ComfortDelGro to reduce taxi rental waiver to 50%

To date, ComfortDelGro has been working with close to 50 food and beverage outlets to offer its cabbies delivery job options. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The full rental waiver for ComfortDelGro cabbies will end next month.

From June 2, taxi drivers for Singapore's largest cab operator will pay half the usual rental rates.

This means the listed company's rental waivers will range from $45 to $86 a day, depending on the make, model and age of the taxi.

The sums include a daily payout of $10 from a special relief fund set up by the government in February to help cabbies and private-hire drivers. This assistance was to end in May, but has now been extended to September.

ComfortDelGro Taxi chief executive Ang Wei Neng said: "Many will continue to work from home and a large number of businesses will still remain closed. Taxi demand, while it is expected to pick up somewhat, is not expected to return to normal any time soon.

"We know that things will continue to be tough for our cabbies still, but having already extended full rental waiver for the last two months, we are unable to do so for a third. We hope that the 50 per cent rental waiver for the month of June will, however, help ease some of their financial load."

The largest cab operator said it will "ramp up efforts to secure more delivery jobs" for its drivers - both through its delivery platform ComfortDelivery and other similar platforms.

To date, ComfortDelGro has been working with close to 50 food and beverage outlets to offer its cabbies delivery job options. Close to 2,000 taxis are now making deliveries for more than 800 food partners.

Another 400 cabbies have been redeployed to other alternative jobs, like working as service ambassadors at MRT stations.

Cabby Henry Tay, 49, said a 50 per cent rental waiver will not help much.

"I think many will return their cabs," he said. "I don't think there will be any noticeable increase in passenger numbers. Even those who go back to office to work, most will use public transport. Only a minority will take cabs, because everyone knows things will be tough for at least the next one year. So they will not spend more if they can help it. Plus we are still not getting any tourists or corporate travellers."

Mr Tay said his street-hail jobs amount to "only $40 to $50 a day on average".

"I have to do food deliveries to cover my costs," he said, adding that "nowadays, there is hardly any booking jobs".

"People just walk out and they can get a cab almost immediately," he said.

Other operators are likely to follow ComfortDelGro's lead.

Prime Taxi, the smallest cab operator here, said it will progressively resume rental charges.

During the first month of the circuit breaker period, Prime waived rental completely, but it started charging drivers $20 per day in the second month.

When contacted on Thursday, Prime said it would continue to monitor market conditions, but added that its effective rentals will be "lower than ComfortDelGro's".

Meanwhile, private-hire operator Gojek said on Thursday that it will continue to offer commission waivers of up to 100 per cent until June 28.

"This will help drivers increase their take-home earnings during this period," Gojek said in a statement, adding that its drivers will continue to receive commission rebates of between 60 and 100 per cent.

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