SINGAPORE: Public transport operator SMRT is planning to expand its hourly taxi rental scheme after receiving positive results almost two months after its launch.
More than 1,000 cabbies have signed up for the scheme, which is an alternative to the traditional daily leasing.
Buoyed by the response, SMRT said it hopes to have five times the number of cabs currently available for hourly rentals by the year's end. About 90 per cent of those on the scheme have a vocational licence but were not driving taxis previously.
One of them is 52-year-old Liow Leong Eng, who now drives about seven hours a day, three days a week.
"The taxi driver is supposed to just concentrate on driving the taxi, provide a professional chauffeuring service from point A to point B, rather than worry about rental cost, hirers' relief, MC,” said Mr Liow. “(With) this flexible scheme, I actually don't worry about covering cost because the cost of rental is very, very low. So within two hours I will be able to cover my rental cost and petrol cost."
Under the scheme, rental charges range from S$5.80 to S$12.80 per hour. In comparison, traditional daily rentals with SMRT cost between S$108 and S$125. Channel NewsAsia understands private hire drivers with other ride hailing services fork out about S$60 a day to rent a car.
SMRT started the hourly rental scheme with 16 taxis, but it has since expanded it to more than 100 taxis. The company has also seen new vocational licence holders signing up for the scheme.
There are currently 3,500 taxis in SMRT's fleet and it had previously said that 5 per cent, or about 175, of its taxis were not hired out.
"We do see that there's an inclination that most of them would choose the peak hours but there's some of them who prefer the off-peak. So in short, this helps push more taxis on the road when it's required,” said Mr Tony Heng, managing director of SMRT Taxis and Private Hire Services.