Taxi fare cheats on the rise

Fare cheats, assaults and robberies – these are the common problems that plague cabbies on our roads these days.

In particular, figures from taxi operators show an uptrend in the number of fare cheat cases in recent years.

ComfortDelGro, the largest operator in Singapore with a fleet of 15,600 taxis, said its cabbies have reported an average of 166 fare cheats a month this year, compared with 134 a month in 2008.

In the first half of this year, there have already been about 1,000 cases, said its corporate communications officer Tammy Tan.

Nine assault cases against its taxi drivers were also reported during the same period, added Tan.

Just last Saturday, taxi driver Tan Peng Mong, 57, fractured his arm when he went after a pair of alleged fare cheats who refused to pay a S$20 fare, reported The New Paper. The male passenger had allegedly pushed the cabby down in a struggle that resulted in the latter’s fall.

ComfortDelGro has been in touch with the injured driver and will help him with his medical claims.

The figures are likely to be just the tip of the iceberg, however, as many cabbies do not report cases to the authorities.

Said Syed Hisham, 60, a cabby of 20 years, “I try not to fight because I don’t want to get hurt… so I continue driving to make up for the lost earnings.”

Syed was cheated five times last year.

Other taxi drivers said they often have to write off their losses as it is hard to identify the fare-dodging passengers.

As a gesture of goodwill, ComfortDelGro said it tries to reimburse cabbies in full for the loss in fares.

The latest figures have also prompted Member of Parliament for Joo Chiat Charles Chong to call for better protection of taxi drivers by insuring them against fare losses.

However, Chong also highlighted that companies “need to advise their drivers not to chase after these fare dodgers and risk lives and limbs in the process.”

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