Coronavirus: Khaw Boon Wan promises more help for taxi and private-hire car drivers if outbreak drags on

Earnings have plunged as much as 30 per cent for some drivers as the Covid-19 outbreak enters its sixth week. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan has pledged to "do more" for cabbies and private-hire car drivers should the coronavirus outbreak drag on for longer than expected.

"The coronavirus has deeply impacted P2P (point-to-point) drivers. Many of them reported large drop in business as Singaporeans telecommute or cut down on outings," he said.

Earnings have plunged as much as 30 per cent for some drivers as the Covid-19 outbreak enters its sixth week.

Mr Khaw's assurance, given in a Facebook post on Monday (Feb 24), comes as a comparative official survey shows a rise in commuter satisfaction with the services of these P2P drivers.

The Public Transport Council survey found that the overall mean score of P2P services rose to 8.1 in 2019, from 7.9 in 2018.

The annual survey was conducted between mid-August and early September last year, before the virus outbreak.

For taxis, the overall satisfaction went up from 7.9 to 8.1 while private-hire car services from providers such as Grab and Gojek rose from 7.9 to 8.2.

Commuters were satisfied with nearly all service aspects that make up the overall scores.

Among the biggest improvements were waiting time, driver's knowledge of the route and overall safety.

But satisfaction with service information from both taxis and private-hire cars has slipped.

The score for cabs was 7.7, down from 8, while that for private-hire cars dipped to 7.7, from 7.9.

Said the council: "The survey results showed that over the last two years, there has been a convergence of satisfaction scores across both taxi and PHC services and that customer satisfaction has improved."

Price was a key consideration by commuters in choosing between a cab or private-hire car, the council added in its statement.

The survey also shows commuters opt for private-hire cars over taxis because of the ease of booking through mobile apps, while being able to hail a cab along a street is the main reason for choosing cabs.

In his post, Mr Khaw also urged people to raise the standard of both public cleanliness and personal hygiene in the current lull.

"For P2P services, it means more frequent cleaning and hand-washing with sanitisers," he said.

The new 2020 Budget, announced last week, is set to give P2P drivers aid from a $77 million package to tide them over as their earnings shrink.

The package is co-funded, with the Government contributing $45 million and taxi and private-hire companies making up the rest.

Meanwhile, a $2.7 million fund set up by the Government and National Trades Union Congress is available for drivers who do not qualify for the relief.

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