More than 1,000 cabbies from ComfortDelGro have opted for a new flexi-rental programme to help lighten the burden of paying their full rental fees daily.
The scheme, launched by the island's biggest taxi firm in September last year, is aimed at fighting the trend of cabbies exiting the industry in the face of stiff competition from private-hire car services.
Under the "25CJ" initiative, they can pay a lower rental fee - reduced by as much as half - every day, The Straits Times learnt recently from the scheme's participants.
In return, they must complete at least 25 booking jobs - also called current jobs (CJ) - in a week, and the fare earnings from these trips will be retained by ComfortDelGro as a form of rebate for the reduced daily rentals.
The amount collected, however, will be capped in a way that allows most cabbies to enjoy some net savings in their rental costs.
Sources said that more than 1,000 ComfortDelGro taxi hirers have signed up. Other flexi-rental schemes being rolled out by the firm include a pay-as-you-drive system, in which cabbies pay rentals according to their mileage.
ComfortDelGro, which owns more than 16,700 taxis - accounting for about 60 per cent of the market - declined to reveal more details when asked.
"In a competitive environment, it is not unusual for companies to introduce schemes and promotions," said its group corporate communications officer Tammy Tan, adding that the firm will continue to do so.
Mr Choo Joo Cheng, 59, a cabby who has joined the 25CJ scheme, said he used to pay about $100 a day to rent his Hyundai Sonata, but this is reduced to $85 to $90 now.
He said in Mandarin: "Competition is very intense from the private-hire car services. My income has dropped by about 20 per cent, compared to a few years back. So these savings help."
Mr Tan Ah Suay, 63, also under the scheme, said he saves between $40 and $80 each week.
Other taxi operators are also tweaking their rental fees and schemes. Trans-Cab and Premier have slashed rentals, and SMRT launched an hourly rental programme last week.
Said National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der Horng: "Cab operators are losing their taxi drivers and the number of unrented taxis are on the rise."
He said ComfortDelGro's 25CJ scheme is also trying to win over customers, by creating a pool of taxi drivers who will likely be more responsive to bookings.
"The company wants to assure customers that its service is reliable and responsive," Dr Lee added.