My thoughts on private sharing apps in Singapore

Oct 02, 15 My thoughts on private sharing apps in Singapore

Posted by in Featured, Musings

So after Minister Khaw took up his post as Minister of Transport, one of the biggest news to come out was that the Ministry would be looking to review the private car sharing apps. However, if you just read the headlines and the news excerpt, it doesn’t say much. You would need to read Minister Khaw’s blog post to understand better. I feel his views are actually rather balanced. However, he seems to lack in-depth knowledge about how private sharing apps work and hence, the lack of detailed thoughts. 3rd party booking apps is a complex problem by itself. On one hand, it helps alleviates our current taxi congestion issue, on the other hand, there might be insufficient checks and balances on both the corporates (uber and grabtaxi), as well as on the drivers. Taxi services in Singapore is quite a unique one. Compared to most developed cities, taxi is actually decently affordable for the masses. Then you have the big confusing surcharges and what not. Another interesting characteristic of the taxi service in Singapore is that it is largely driven by people who tend to be older and more likely semi retired. The result of this is there is a mismatch of supply and demand at various times. During our peak hours, there is high demand, and although the supply is high, it seems to be insufficient. After all, if there are 100 passengers that need a ride at 8am, and there are only 80 vehicles, then it goes to say that 20 passengers would have to wait for a vehicle to complete a trip before they can get a ride. Given that peak hour demand tends to be directional (ie, from suburbs to town areas in the morning, and town to suburbs in the evening.), it is a tough incentive for a driver to want to drive from Raffles Place all the way back to Woodlands to pick a passenger at 8am, particularly when he could get a passenger at Outram or...

read more

What is a viable remuneration structure for taxi drivers – A salaried employee route

Oct 12, 13 What is a viable remuneration structure for taxi drivers – A salaried employee route

Posted by in Musings

Earlier on I was writing about the viability of salaried taxi drivers in Singapore, and it prompted quite a bit of discussion on my friend’s facebook. There were quite a number of comments, largely concerning whether taxi drivers will choose the salaried route vs the current, and that once you paid taxi drivers a fixed salary, they would become lazy. Ironically, when you think about it, both of these concerns are exactly the opposite. To me though, the devil is always in the details. Thus, I spent a bit of time thinking about it, and drafted a brief remuneration structure as follows below. The idea of course, is how do you pay a basic salary, yet with enough incentive for them to work hard. At the same time, we are trying to enhance the current taxi industry in Singapore, so certain aspects of that must be taken in consideration. To me, modelling a remuneration structure after similar systems in stock broking, banking sales, and other forms of salaried sales role might be an interesting starting point. You have a low basic salary, a quarterly performance bonus, and an annual quality bonus. Proportion There are many industries where there are salaried sales people, and self employed agents. Examples are stock broking (around 15% salaried, 85% self employed), insurance (probably closer to only 10% salaried) and property (also around 10-15% salaried). Thus, I would imagine the same can apply here. The existing remuneration system can be kept for those who chose the self employed route. Currently, they have to take a vocational license course, put a $1k security deposit, and pay a daily rental of around $70-120 for the taxi. They get to keep all earnings and they have access to cheaper fuel. As an employee, they would have to go through a typical interview and selection process. Whereas in the self employed model, almost anybody can become a taxi driver if they pay for their own license, course and deposit. Employees will also have the...

read more

Salaried taxi drivers in Singapore. Will it work?

Oct 10, 13 Salaried taxi drivers in Singapore. Will it work?

Posted by in Interesting articles, Musings

I was reading an article in the newspapers about “Raising surcharges won’t make cabbies drive longer” and it set my mind thinking. The crux of the article is that raising surcharge will not make taxi drivers drive longer, simply because they may not be incentivised primarily by money. Taxi drivers in Singapore are typically self employed. That is, they rent a vehicle from the taxi company for a fixed cost. Then it’s up to them how hard working they want to be. Most of the time though, taxi drivers in Singapore tend to take a flexible approach to their work. If family matters come first, they will prioritise that. Currently, there are already surcharges implemented through various means. Location based surcharge to encourage taxi drivers to go to a certain region/location. Time based surcharge to encourage drivers to be more active during peak hiring hours. Even then, these are implemented in various mechanisms such as peak hour surcharge, midnight surcharge, etc. Often, when a taxi driver hits his profit target for the day, they will tend to take it easy. Maybe enjoy a coffee with some friends, or run personal errands with the taxi. In a personal/individual basis, it might make sense. But on a system basis, it degrades the reliability and service quality of the public transport system. Let’s not forget taxi is a form of public transport. The Land Transport Authority has recently mandated that 70% of a taxi fleet must cover 250km in a day. Even so, it is not likely to solve anything, but it adds more frustration into the system. 250km is simply 83km/h for 3 hours. I would imagine a typical active driver would cover more than that. But what it does is make ‘self employed’ people feel restricted on principle. So what next? A mandate of 500km? 750km? In the article, the writer suggested having drivers with fixed salary and bonuses for good performances. Pondering about it, it actually sounds like a good idea! Of course, the idea...

read more

Why Gen Y yuppies are unhappy

Sep 16, 13 Why Gen Y yuppies are unhappy

Posted by in Interesting articles, Musings

I recently came across a pretty interesting article and it definitely resonates with me.. In short, it was about why we see so much unhappiness and social unrest in the last few years. In the beginning, he talks about happiness. Happiness = Reality – Expectation   That’s one of the most amazing way of describing happiness I’ve seen! Essentially, it just means if what you get in life, is more than what you expect, you are generally happy. He gave quite a bit of analogy and context after that, but the short story is, as above. Happiness = Reality – Expectation. He later goes on to talk about the 3 facts about the Gen Y GYPSY. That they are wildly ambitious, delusional, and constantly taunted. How true! In the current generation, our parents have worked hard and attained decent success. As such, a lot of parents tell their kids that they are special, and that they should pursue their passion, etc. This gives a false sense of idealism and that the world is all rosy. To top it off, social media has made it easy for people to share their ideal self. Every week, you would see someone partying, or someone flying off for a holiday, or someone buying a new car/house. People tend to present the best of themselves publicly, and we consume all these in envy. All these adds up to raise our own expectation. Do read the whole article here. To me, the last advice is the best. Ignore everyone else. Other people’s grass seeming greener is no new concept, but in today’s image crafting world, other people’s grass looks like a glorious meadow. The truth is that everyone else is just as indecisive, self-doubting, and frustrated as you are, and if you just do your thing, you’ll never have any reason to envy...

read more

Kishore Buxani: A Passion for Real Estate

Feb 01, 13 Kishore Buxani: A Passion for Real Estate

Posted by in Interesting articles

First printed in Business Times, 12 Jan 2013 A passion for real estate Kishore Buxani, who heads the Buxani Group, has a nose for sniffing out undervalued assets, reports Kalpana Rashiwala Kishore Buxani had a headstart in the real estate business. When he was 12, he and his elder brother Haresh started ploughing through the classified ads to help their mother find a home for the family. One apartment in Meyer Road – a 1,250 sq ft unit with 999-year leasehold tenure – caught their eye. “When we finally bought it in 1986, it was at $165,000. But I remember having looked at it earlier in 1983, when it was $380,000,” says the 40-year-old, who heads the Buxani Group. His early experience and the skills he later gained at Goldman Sachs helped to hone his real estate investing strategy. He concentrates on what he understands best, that is, Singapore commercial real estate, seeking undervalued properties, adding value to them, and holding them for the long term. Market watchers say making shrewd property investments is a family trait for Mr Buxani. His mother, Indra, is a sister of Royal Brothers founders Raj and Asok Kumar Hiranandani – although Buxani Group is fully owned by Mr Buxani and not linked to his uncles. Mr Buxani has a nose for sniffing out undervalued assets. “We look for well-located older properties below replacement cost and which are under-performing, under-rented, under-used, and under-appreciated.” Part two of this strategy involves value-addition. “We actively manage the asset post-acquisition through refurbishment, repositioning or tenant remixing.” Founded in 2003, Buxani Group owns Katong Junction, a stake in Finexis Building in Robinson Road, four floors in Samsung Hub, and strata office units in Parkway Centre. Its partner in these four investments is a group of offshore investors advised by Seychelles-based Capital Management Group (CMG). Apart from these joint investments with CMG, Buxani Group owns more than 10 shophouses in Chinatown and Little India along with strata offices at International Plaza and Malacca Centre, and...

read more