Taxi operator ComfortDelGro and ride-hailing firm Grab have announced additional measures to help cabbies and drivers affected by the coronavirus outbreak
Coronavirus: More relief for cabbies, Grab drivers ComfortDelGro on Thursday (Feb 20) said a daily rental rebate of $16.50 will be given to each taxi from Feb 21 till the end of March. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

More financial help is on the way for cabbies affected by the coronavirus outbreak, with market leader ComfortDelGro announcing about $10 million in rental rebates yesterday.

This is on top of the $77 million package that the Government announced last week to help cabbies and private-hire drivers, to which Singapore's largest taxi operator is contributing $18 million.
ComfortDelGro yesterday said a daily rental rebate of $16.50 will be given to each taxi from today till the end of next month, translating to $660 per taxi for the period. This will be followed by a daily $10 rebate for the entire month of April.
"Together with the earlier rebate and government subsidy, ComfortDelGro cabbies will see a daily rental reduction of $36.50 till the end of March, $30 till the end of April and $20 till May 13," ComfortDelGro said. More may be done depending on how the coronavirus situation unfolds, it added.
In total, ComfortDelGro cabbies and their relief drivers will receive $28 million over the next three months. The additional assistance comes amid falling demand for taxi services, brought on by the virus scare which has put many people off discretionary trips and triggered a plunge in tourist arrivals.
Also, with more companies allowing their staff to work from home, cabbies have seen their income drop by 20 to 30 per cent.
ComfortDelGro Taxi chief executive Ang Wei Neng added: "We have been monitoring the situation very closely and have received feedback from our cabbies who have been asking for help. We felt that we needed to do more."
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When contacted for their response to ComfortDelGro's move, taxi companies pointed out that their rental rates were already lower than ComfortDelGro's. Nevertheless, Ms Jasmine Tan, general manager of Trans-Cab, the second-largest operator here, said the company will lower its daily rental by $5 from today. "Our rental rates are already much lower than the market," she said, noting that its Toyota Prius is around $113 a day.
ComfortDelGro's rate for the Prius is $125, according to cabby Henry Tay. Mr Tay, 49, said he has stayed with ComfortDelGro despite its higher rental because "it has a good reputation among drivers and passengers, and it offers multiple payment modes".
On the latest rebate, Mr Tay said: "I appreciate the company's gesture, but the problem is not rental, but a huge drop in passenger numbers. It became worse after reports of cabbies catching the virus."
Mr Ang Hin Kee, adviser to the National Taxi Association and National Private Hire Vehicles Association, said ComfortDelGro's move will align its rental rates to the industry norm. "It's market competition at work," he added.
Premier Taxis managing director Lim Chong Boo said ComfortDelGro's move "will encourage us to see what more we can do for our drivers" during this coronavirus outbreak, but he noted that the industry's woes started well before the outbreak.
"The market has been facing a huge oversupply of vehicles," he said, referring to the arrival of private-hire players, which has led to a trebling of point-to-point vehicles in recent years.
Meanwhile, ride-hailing firm Grab also announced additional aid for its drivers yesterday.
It said eligible drivers will receive up to $85 a week to supplement their fare earnings between March 2 and May 30. This is on top of the government package which covers private-hire drivers and cabbies.
This is on top of the $77 million package that the Government announced last week to help cabbies and private-hire drivers, to which Singapore's largest taxi operator is contributing $18 million.

ComfortDelGro yesterday said a daily rental rebate of $16.50 will be given to each taxi from today till the end of next month, translating to $660 per taxi for the period. This will be followed by a daily $10 rebate for the entire month of April.

"Together with the earlier rebate and government subsidy, ComfortDelGro cabbies will see a daily rental reduction of $36.50 till the end of March, $30 till the end of April and $20 till May 13," ComfortDelGro said. More may be done depending on how the coronavirus situation unfolds, it added.

In total, ComfortDelGro cabbies and their relief drivers will receive $28 million over the next three months. The additional assistance comes amid falling demand for taxi services, brought on by the virus scare which has put many people off discretionary trips and triggered a plunge in tourist arrivals.

Also, with more companies allowing their staff to work from home, cabbies have seen their income drop by 20 to 30 per cent.

ComfortDelGro Taxi chief executive Ang Wei Neng added: "We have been monitoring the situation very closely and have received feedback from our cabbies who have been asking for help. We felt that we needed to do more."

When contacted for their response to ComfortDelGro's move, taxi companies pointed out that their rental rates were already lower than ComfortDelGro's. Nevertheless, Ms Jasmine Tan, general manager of Trans-Cab, the second-largest operator here, said the company will lower its daily rental by $5 from today. "Our rental rates are already much lower than the market," she said, noting that its Toyota Prius is around $113 a day.

ComfortDelGro's rate for the Prius is $125, according to cabby Henry Tay. Mr Tay, 49, said he has stayed with ComfortDelGro despite its higher rental because "it has a good reputation among drivers and passengers, and it offers multiple payment modes".

On the latest rebate, Mr Tay said: "I appreciate the company's gesture, but the problem is not rental, but a huge drop in passenger numbers. It became worse after reports of cabbies catching the virus."

Mr Ang Hin Kee, adviser to the National Taxi Association and National Private Hire Vehicles Association, said ComfortDelGro's move will align its rental rates to the industry norm. "It's market competition at work," he added.

Premier Taxis managing director Lim Chong Boo said ComfortDelGro's move "will encourage us to see what more we can do for our drivers" during this coronavirus outbreak, but he noted that the industry's woes started well before the outbreak.

"The market has been facing a huge oversupply of vehicles," he said, referring to the arrival of private-hire players, which has led to a trebling of point-to-point vehicles in recent years.

Meanwhile, ride-hailing firm Grab also announced additional aid for its drivers yesterday.

It said eligible drivers will receive up to $85 a week to supplement their fare earnings between March 2 and May 30. This is on top of the government package which covers private-hire drivers and cabbies.