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Saturday, 21 February 2009

Taxi ridership falls

FEWER people are taking taxis, but despite this, cabbies are against cutting fares to bring back the passengers.

This is not the way to boost business and help drivers, said Comfort Taxi Operators' Association president Nah Tua Bah and CityCab Taxi Operators' Association president Robin Ng, speaking on behalf of five taxi operators here.

They noted that cabbies were making less daily now because fewer people were taking taxis, but said lower fares - besides further chipping away at drivers' incomes - did not guarantee the commuters would come back.

Some commuters, however, think differently. Civil servant Liew Nam Fatt, 40, who takes taxis four times a week, said he would do so more often if the peak-hour surcharge was cut.

'Of course I will take cabs if they were cheaper. That is a natural commuter reaction, isn't it?'

But there are also commuters like undergraduate Clarissa Chua, 21, who has declared she will stay away from taxis unless the fares come down - improbably - by half.

The numbers confirm a fall in the number of passengers: Taxis provided 10.9 million rides for the whole of last year, a 4 per cent fall from 2007, when there were 11.3 million rides.

On a monthly basis last year, January, October and November logged fewer than 900,000 rides each. No month in 2007 went below this number.

The slump has hit drivers' earnings: The Straits Times understands that a driver who clocks 10 hours a day earned about $2,250 last November, 6 per cent less than the previous month.

Those who drove a 'double shift', that is, more than 10 hours, took a bigger hit - their incomes shrank 8 per cent to $4,700 in November.

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