When my Hyundai i40 taxi came out of Komoco on 5th Aug 2014, there were many well wishers from my friends especially those taxi drivers at Elias Mall. Even before the arrival of my taxi, I had many rounds of discussion with my EM friends. I booked Johnny Cash as my permanent night relief driver from Mon to Fri. Alan Taxi shall be my day relief. I’ll drive OMO on weekends. Pop Ong, another i40 Hyundai taxi hirer who got his more than a year ago also gave me important tips on my new taxi set-up.
Having considered all the suggestions from my taxi friends at EM, I decided to accessorize my brand new taxi even before it came out. I decided to cough out some hard cash on the following items…
a) Pioneer Radio and CD player $188
b) Rear Bumper rubberized protector at the booth opening $25
c) LED cab light $15
d) Reverse sensor $70
e) Tough PVC wrapped around on floor board to replace the carpet $105
f) Nano ceramic solar film for the whole taxi to filter off harmful sun rays $375
Total costs of the initial investment on my new taxi came to $778! The above items were decided after careful consideration. Trust me, after more than 2 months driving this taxi, I’ll tell you it is worth every cent. AT volunteered to contribute $100 towards the costs. I only accepted $50 each from him and Johnny Cash as a token gesture. After all, I’m the hirer and I made the decision to invest that sum. Wise Lohcifer – an expert on EQ and a Maestro of Change had this to say, “It’s good that you accepted their token contribution. It gives them a sense of ownership!”
The fact that I drive the taxi for more than 8 hours a day necessitates those extras. The radio will keep me entertained throughout my driving hours. But then I need to be careful whenever there is a passenger. I prefer to listen to Chinese channels like FM 95.8 and FM 97.2 even though I’m English educated and comfortable using English. I find those Chinese DJs in the 2 channels very friendly and endearing especially towards taxi drivers. They call us “德士师傅”! What an honor. If a non-Chinese passenger comes in, I immediately switch it over to BBC “!” . When I’m on the way to top up my fuel or clean up my taxi after my shift, I’ll listen to Da Bei Zhou / 大悲咒. When the passenger is talking on the phone, I always lower down the volume. I’ll blog about Taxi etiquette other time. Link
Often, we fetch or send passengers to the airport with luggage. The rear top bumper of the booth is subject to the onslaught of the lugguage resulting in ugly scratches. My taxi friends advised me to cushion it with a a heavy duty rubberized sheet to protect the rear bumper.
The LED light is super bright. It’s useful at night when I need to collect fare from passenger at end of the journey. I also use it to clean the vehicle interior in the night.
Very often, we need to send passenger right to the door step of the house. I’m referring to private residential homes. There are certain places in private residential landed property with cars parking along narrow roads and it’s quite dark. The places I encountered such as Ikan Merah or Jln Tanjong areas are very congested at night. The reverse sensor helps me to maneuver around without kissing any of the cars parked along the sides of the narrow road!
Pop Ong regretted not installing the tough wrapped around PVC plastic cover on the vehicle floor board. I was strongly advised by many of my comrades to install it. It’s much easier to clean the dirt, sands or hairs deposited on the floor board. If it’s carpeted, even the vacuum cleaner won’t be able to suck them out completely. I’m more worried about drunkards vomiting in the vehicle. Imagine the carpet soaked and stained with vomit from drunk passengers throwing out like our Merlion? The smell and stench on the carpet will never go away even if you wash it thoroughly or spray with perfume! That’s the major worry whenever we fetch drunk passengers in the wee hours from those night spots.
Johnny Cash who drives the night shift and his penchant to scour all the night spots in town had a memorable experience with what I just described! He had to pack up early to wash the taxi and that ruined his shift not to mention loss of income!
Lastly, the costly solar film installed in the whole taxi is definitely worth every cent. The fact that I ever driven others’ taxis in the day shift made me understand the importance of solar film to filter off its harmful effects. It also reduces heat. If I’m going to drive at least 8 hours on the day shift, I better get it installed. When I drove Pop Ong’s taxi for a week on the day shift, I had to take cover under the shady trees when temperature hit the highest under the midday sun. Even with the air con on full blast, I was still sweating profusely inside the cab.
Now in my own taxi, I only need to switch the air con to level 3 to maintain its coolness and I can still go on driving. My day shift relief AT is enjoying the cool comfort of day driving. Most importantly, it prevents me from getting skin cancer or pigmentation if I’m going to carry on driving taxi permanently on the day shift.
The above briefly explains the initial investment on my taxi when it first came out. After more than 2 months I’m reaping its benefits. No regrets at all.
There may be other hirers or readers who do not share my views on this subject or any other topics I used to blog about. There are tens of thousands of taxi drivers out there on the roads. Surely, I do not expect all of them to agree with me on this topic. Just like some of the 100,000 over Singaporean TDVL holders who may take issue with the PM when he recently endorsed Uber publicly on national television. Now anybody – no need to be a Singapore citizen but as long as you own a private car could enter the taxi trade via the back door under Uber without any need to go through LTA approval (screening) or the tough 2-week course! We are quite confused now. I’ll talk about its dire repercussions other time. Link
But I’ve reached a stage where I write only for my own pleasure and for the reading pleasure of my family and friends. As much as there are few loyal fans out there following my blogs, there are also others taking pot shots on selective portions of my blog posts. Those are the losers and “morons” we always find in any society. It’s always easy to pass comments on lousy food but when you ask him to cook, he can’t! I guess we just have to face them and live with those retards!
Back to my topic. I always believe that taxi is a public transport. It is meant for the public. Anyone can hail your taxi and take your cab to his destination. It is not a private car as far as I’m concerned. All taxis are governed by LTA’s regulations and in my case also come under stringent company’s Code of Conduct. I make a living out of the cab from the public. From the lowest to the highest food chain, anyone could take my taxi as long as he pays. Likewise, I also expect to be treated with decency when I’m doing my job. It’s a 2-way process. I do not discriminate my passengers cuz they pay the standard meter fare. Whoever you are, you still pay me the meter fare. Maybe, some of them will round off the fare giving me the extra tips. Just keep the change if they are happy with the ride. They pay even more if they had a ride of their life!
As such, I’m very particular about cleanliness in my taxi. My 2 other relief drivers who own private cars are also very particular about taxi cleanliness. AT not only contributed $50 to the initial investment, but also sponsored many other items for the new taxi. He bought a dozen air refreshers for the taxi. He even bought 2 extra floor mats with “Welcome” imprinted on them for the rear passenger seats. The box of tissue paper at the back of the cab also replenished by him. Even seat cushions for front and driver seats also bought by him!
Internal view of my taxi. Note the plastic bags on standby for Merlion pax.
Isn’t AT really has a sense of ownership of the taxi even though he only drives 2 weekdays on the day shift for me? Yes, Heavens got eyes to see. Just last Saturday, my taxi number came out. He did strike 2nd prize and won a big windfall! I also had a small windfall. Our EM brethren and myself are very happy for him cuz he gave us a fantastic treat on last Saturday night. Despite the fact he doesn’t drink, he opened more than a dozen beer plus so much food he ordered for all the EM folks! If you believe in Karma, it’s happening right before our eyes.
Huat Ah! Lucky Taxi!
My knowledgable ex-colleague Busy Bee presented me a solar powered Tibetan revolving wheel for my new taxi. He checked back with me if I had placed it on my taxi dashboard? I told him I needed to consider the feelings of my 2 relief drivers who are against the idea saying that the taxi is a public transport and not our private car. We should not put toys, idols, unnecessary items etc inside the taxi. Unlike others, they like to decorate with all kinds of things in their taxis. My mother’s talisman from the temple also had to forgo! Red Bull on the other hand presented some pieces of special cleaning cloth for my taxi. According to him, the cloth is used to clean aircraft! Can’t get them in the shops. We gladly accepted them.
I ever said that operating a taxi is akin to operating a food stall except that ours is a “mobile” food stall where the whole island is our playground. We are free to roam about on the super efficient highways and the countless small roads and lanes without any hindrance. You will not want to patronize the food stall if the food seller is shabbily dressed, unkempt and untidy with a dirty food stall. Similarly, if the taxi driver is not neat, lackadaisical attitude with a filthy taxi, would you enjoy the ride?
I’ll blog about taxi cleanliness citing some real anecdotes and feedback from passengers. There are many things I wish to talk about regarding the taxi trade. I’ll do so whenever I have the time and the mood. Like I say, I’m leaving a legacy by blogging about my job and life. It’s always good to put on record and archive on my life’s milestones.