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...

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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...

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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...

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An interesting paradigm shift to tackle motor car road congestion in Singapore : On-Peak Cars

Jul 19, 11 An interesting paradigm shift to tackle motor car road congestion in Singapore :  On-Peak Cars

Posted by in Musings

I was recently on my way to town on a Saturday afternoon, and I tell you, I was in for a shock! The number of cars along the CTE and within Orchard/City Hall area are crazy! I remember quite some time ago on a Saturday evening, I drove from Newton to Suntec. It was actually quite a short route, just round novena, then the back of KK hospital, past little india, then straight on to suntec. Shouldn’t take too long since the train ride from newton to city hall was just 10 minutes or so. The drive took 45 minutes. And not only that, the searching for a parking lot at suntec took another 20 minutes. Madness. So I was wondering, is there a reason for this? The first thing that came to mind was that I will definitely take public transport the next time I go to town. The second thing that came to mind was Off-Peak Cars. Off-Peak Cars are basically red plate cars that are allowed to drive only between 7pm to 7am on the weekdays and full days on the weekends. In return, they get a form of rebate off the purchase price of the cars. The essence behind this scheme was that they wanted to keep the roads as congestion free as possible during office hours, so that logistics can move fast, couriers can deliver parcels with minimal delays, and people will be able to get to meetings without 1 hour traffic jams like in other regional cities. (Think Kuala Lumpur, Mumbai, Beijing, Jarkarta) In this aspect, the Off-Peak Car scheme has been very very successful! Now, you only get traffic congestions before 9am, and after 6pm! Inconvenience yes, but pragmatic too. The problem is you get a flood of cars on weekends! Every normal plated cars and Off-Peak cars will be flooding the roads, particularly to places with shopping malls. (which in the case of Singapore, tend to be congregated together) While I can’t say it is an...

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