Taxi association to raise concerns to ComfortDelGro over revised booking levy

Starting Sept 25, ComfortDelGro cabbies will pay a levy of 3.9 per cent for each booking that costs over $12, and no levy for bookings that are under $12. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Singapore's biggest taxi operator is changing how much it takes from cabbies for ride bookings, causing many to wonder how it will impact their earnings from next week.

Starting next Tuesday (Sept 25), ComfortDelGro cabbies will pay a levy of 3.9 per cent for each booking that costs over $12, and no levy for bookings that are under $12.

Currently, they pay the taxi operator 30 cents per fare for off-peak bookings and 40 cents per fare for peak-hour bookings, while advance bookings carry a levy of $1.

These levies are charged only for rides booked through ComfortDelGro's phone and mobile app booking systems.

By waiving the levy for jobs below $12, ComfortDelGro hopes to encourage cabbies to take on more jobs through its booking system, said spokesman Tammy Tan.

A letter sent to drivers, seen by The Straits Times, noted ComfortDelGro loses "thousands of bookings" daily because drivers do not take them.

If drivers accepted more of such jobs, commuters would have shorter waiting times, ComfortDelgro said on Tuesday (Sept 18) in response to queries.

Ms Tan said cabbies would also receive greater weekly incentives the more booking jobs they complete.

Cabby Chua Hwee Keng said he did not expect much change in his takings with the new levy.

"It will depend on the kind of jobs I get," said the 56-year-old, adding about half of the booking jobs he takes are for fares below $12.

Others, however, were concerned the change would take a bigger bite out of their earnings.

Veteran cabby Haniff Mahbob said he was still studying what impact the revised levies would have on his income.

"The levies could be a lot higher than the 30 cents currently charged," said the 66-year-old, adding most of the fares he takes from booking jobs are priced above $12.

National Taxi Association (NTA) executive adviser Ang Hin Kee said he was " very disappointed" with the move by ComfortDelGro, adding he had spoken to cabbies about the change.

"Most said the number of trips they take from call bookings that are less than $12 are few and far between," said the Ang Mo Kio MP, noting drivers are concerned the company is profiting at their expense, as high taxi rentals and increasing fuel costs already take a significant chunk of their incomes.

The promised weekly incentives might also not make up for the loss in profits, he said, and such incentives could be temporary.

Mr Ang said the NTA would raise its concerns to ComfortDelGro, as well as the Land Transport Authority and the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore.

The change made by ComfortDelGro - the largest taxi operator here, with more than 12,000 cabs - mirrors a move made by Grab. In March, the ride-hailing firm increased the commission paid by cabbies using its JustGrab service to 12 per cent for fares priced $11 and above, and dropped it to 3 per cent for fares priced $10 and below.

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