Pathetic Singaporean Taxi Drivers and COMFORT – Diary of a Singaporean Driver

16441

By James Lim

“Prolonged competition from private car operators has made COMFORT, the biggest taxi company in Singapore to report a massive downfall in revenue. Its net profit for the second quarter ended June 30th fell 6.8% to S$79.4 million, a fall of S$5.4 million in 3 months.

She has never had such a hefty revenue decline in her decades of taxi operation and with the competitive “tsunami” not receding in the foreseeable future, investors confidence and funding are now restrained and this would surely lead to a cessation of taxi operations eventually unless a viable restructuring solution is found.

Compounding her revenue misery, COMFORT has a new enemy in Grab, a regional rival that’s No 1 choice in Singapore. On Sunday night (Sept 3), Grab “attacked” COMFORT by alluring her taxi drivers with 40 percent rental discount if they switch camp to join rival taxi operators like SMRT, TransCab, Premier and Prime. To a taxi driver, this attractive rental discount would mean a saving of almost $1,500 per month. The discounts are higher if the cabbies take on a private-hire car through GrabRental. This would save them $1,688 monthly or about $60 rental a day. No wonder, COMFORT’s share fell for a second straight day after this “attack”.

Undoubtedly, COMFORT is now in deep water. She has been complacent for decades with deadwood management and operating with authoritarian auto-mood. Now, having caught napping at the wheel. she belatedly tried to shift gear and started talk with Uber about a partnership. This probably prompted Grab’s recent attack. But I doubt anything positive would emerge from discussions between Uber and COMFORT.

Never did COMFORT anticipate that a day like this will come and is now licking her wounds.

Comeuppance time! my friends. Nothing makes me happier than this happening in COMFORT. I’m a strong believer in KARMA!

Remember the day when “monopolistic” COMFORT was a big brother and “governed” the taxi trade with rules that others had to follow. Remember how their disciplinary staff mercilessly sack royal drivers without hesitation and investigation but merely based on a phone call. These dirt bags and dead woods in COMFORT will soon taste their own medicine.

Today, COMFORT in-house parking lots are insufficient to accommodate the colossal number of taxis returned by their drivers, so much so that she had to rent third party parking lots,

From reported estimates, nett rental income from two running taxis is needed to cover the costs of one superfluous cab in the shelter.  With 5 percent of excessive returned-taxis, COMFORT is suffering a 800 x $100 = $80,000/day ($2.4 millions/month) of loss of income, taxes and depreciation. Therefore, it’s not a question of IF but WHEN will COMFORT close shop.

Two years ago, I predicted that COMFORT might face bankruptcy (Link). Today the reality of COMFORT demise is on the horizon like Temasek’s sale of N.O.L. (Neptune Orient Lines) to France’s CMA  CGM.

It’s disastrous when you have stupid people in charge of companies

Please allow me to quote the following passages from my most admired blogger “Loh and Behold

Taxi drivers used to be a spoilt lot, cherry picking passengers and disappearing whenever they are needed only to emerge when surcharges kick in.

There are at least 42,800 private-hire cars on Singapore roads today and only 26,000 taxis.


Flexible working hours and the perks of having a car are what attracted many to become private-hire car drivers.


Those still hanging on to the taxis are begging the LTA to let them double up as delivery drivers.


Today Uber and Grab are eating their lunch.


No longer finding it viable to continue as taxi drivers, many are returning their taxis.


You may be the cock of the walk, but a day will come when you’ll end up as a feather duster.

This is a user contributed article. Send your drafts to news@theindependent.sg

Get the latest news, opinions and commentaries. Available on Android  

65 comments

  1. Steve Teh says:

    I would say all taxi drivers here choose their customers and decide who to take. Arrogantly Ignoring the regulations just to manipulate the most profitable timing to take in customers. Throughout years LTA didn’t actively enforced on them. What these taxi drivers don’t service before are now being filled up by Grab and Uber. They deserve the outcome.

  2. Alan Lee says:

    Why taxi can not be own by individual like the Yellow TOP in the past if the satisfied the rules and conditions of LTA on transport services. They have gang up to bully all of us to monopoly the business and wayang to let a few (government) companies to operate as competitors. Uber is now exposing them and give them a fight.

    1. Philip Lim says:

      They take every opportunity to sack their drivers! Most other companies taxi drivers are ex comfort taxi driver. Comfort created their own competitors by sacking their drivers.Karma’s ACTION.

  3. Comfort close down drivers most happy. Other small players will return taxi license to LTA. At most drivers switch to Uber or Grab. By then surge without fare regulation because taxi meter has became obsolete. The meter system has eradicated touting for decades only to have to consumers so eager to bring it back in the name of price war. Drivers are waiting for this day. By then another pile of shit for LTA to clear.

  4. Shamsul Hk says:

    You seriously want to support Malaysians and American companies. It will not happen to taxi only. NOL is the first. Next in line will be retail. So generally speaking Singaporeans will be affected. Thanks to LHL team. The 3rd generation government is killing the country slowly.

  5. Roger Ho says:

    Drop midnight /peak /airport subcharges! – who cares how much they rent out the cabs? We only care about how much we need to pay for the trip!!!

  6. Philip Lim says:

    Cocky comfort better close down! Uber with comfort? Bear in mind most uber driver are ex comfort taxi driver but was sack by comfort. So if uber with comfort,think uber drivers will switch to Grab?

  7. Alan Lee says:

    They have been bullying the customers and taxi drivers thru their authoritarian all these years. Look at how the get rib of the Yellow TOP taxi owner by force of their law.

  8. Jil Khoo says:

    Enjoy the cheap fares n promo while it lasts. When one appcompany ousted the other, u gonna pay thru yr nose for the surge. Taxi company gv bookings, they only get 30/40/50¢, now app companies getting paid 20%. The higher the fares, the happier their revenue. Brace yourselves

    1. 谭曜菅 says:

      Agreed with your saying, the best is kill the taxi company and than we will hear a lot of complain on U/G or may only G. Then they will be more happy to pay such a price.

  9. PK Ang says:

    Increase Number of Taxis by 30%..
    Lower Rental by 30%
    Increase Taxis fare by 30%..

    Drivers will have less paxs, less income to be covered by Lower rental n higher fare..peak hours problem will be solved n to adjust if need be..

    1. PK Ang says:

      Philip Lim
      Save it, Philip.
      You will find yourself helping your children n grandchildren..

      1st.. never sell your second HDB flat..for profit, if you want to, you may do it if you reached age 75 years,(if life is short) you don’t need it..Your flat plus your CPF payout will assured you to be financially independent..you will live a secured life..n most important “no gambling ”

      Have a nice day n all the best..

    2. Roger Ho says:

      Frankly – just reduce all the confusing subcharges and midnight charges- then many people will take cabs instead of Uber or Grab- as for the rentals – the market force will decide

  10. This happens again and again and these companies never learn from history. Look at Nokia and Sun Microsystems for examples. These were market leaders in their own space, and both ignored changes in their markets (Android/iOS and Intel CPUs respectively) till it was too late. As market leaders, it is really hard for a company to admit that their way of doing things no longer works and they need to change it . Android/iOS showed everyone how horrible Symbian was, and Intel showed how companies could run their workloads cheaper and faster than they did on Sun processors. Comfort is the same, they refused to accept that their current fare structure was inferior to what Grab and Uber introduced, and instead of introducing changes early, they waited till it was too late. They only have themselves to blame.

  11. PK Ang says:

    Singaporeans must not be caught napping too !
    If Operators are not locally owned, every S$ we spend daily can be drained out of our country too..Our S$ can become weaker, our CPF n other savings will lose its buying power..As times go by it will be in terms of $billions n $billions..
    Are Operators locals beside Temasek ?

    1. PK Ang says:

      Jeffrey Cheong
      You don’t pay your housing loans by CPF..
      CPF fund are use to for Education, CPF Medisave is use for medical expenses, pay premiums for MediShield Life besides G TOP up..
      CPF monthly payout from age 65 for life . Balance pay payable to children when one comes to passed early…All these not your CPF money

    2. Roger Ho says:

      We need a Living wage ! Not strifing competition- most people can’t afford cabs and many become drivers – with a decent salary – locals will spend more !!!

  12. Nothing will make lives of Singaporeans better when the profitable business is link with the govt. They just want to take from people the easy ways by increasing cab rental.

  13. Don’t be too happy. If cdg closed down and taxis becoming a thing of the past. Commuters will really wakes up to regret supporting third-party apps. Why? Bye2 to cheap taxi fares. We the ex-taxi drivers will have the last laugh.

  14. Farish Anv says:

    I feel taxi drivers should consider crossing over to UG. Buy/lease a car. Break even on PH is very fast. Profit wise you decide how much you want to make.

  15. Of course with uber. So that they can continue their oligopoly. Grab happens to be invested by temasek but you don’t expect the (sleeping) competition commission to do anything right?

  16. 宫雨 says:

    HDB industrial deserved this kind of treatment too. HDB has been very complacent too. When tenant has difficulties to pay, they tell them off like comfort … Cannot then give up. Mother farkers may one day HDB industrial be such a state.

Comments are closed.