ComfortDelgro – BT

Taxis to add 30-cent diesel surcharge per ride from Thursday

COMFORTDELGRO will introduce a diesel surcharge of 30 cents on the cost of all taxi rides from next Thursday due to rising diesel prices, and yesterday’s announcement by the market heavyweight led to SMRT Taxis following suit. ComfortDelGro operates the biggest fleet of taxis in Singapore with about 14,000 vehicles, or almost two-thirds of the total 22,000-plus cabs. SMRT is No 2 with about 3,000 taxis.

ComfortDelGro said that in the last six months, the net pump price of diesel here has risen by more than 50 per cent to $1.83 a litre on the back of all-time high global oil prices.

‘For the last six months, we have been absorbing a large part of the increase in diesel costs so that our drivers can enjoy a low rate of just $1.19 per litre of diesel,’ said Yang Ban Seng, CEO of the land transport giant’s taxi business. ‘But even at this subsidised rate, our drivers are still paying about 40 per cent more than what they were paying six months ago before the fare revision and the indications are that oil prices will continue to remain high.’

ComfortDelGro, which sells diesel to its drivers, said it incurred a $6.3 million loss on such sales in the first three months of the year alone. The company added that the diesel surcharge will increase drivers’ incomes by $9 per day, assuming each taxi makes about 30 trips daily. The surcharge, which will go to the driver, is a temporary measure to offset surging diesel costs. It will be removed when diesel prices fall back to $1.19 per litre, the market price on Dec 17, 2007.

Even CNG-powered taxis are likely to tack on the 30-cent surcharge. Smart Automobile, which has 180 cabs that run on compressed natural gas (CNG), said this is because the price of CNG has also risen as it tracks the price of high sulphur fuel oil. ‘The price of CNG is currently $1.59 per kg, before a 12 per cent discount for our drivers,’ said managing director Johnny Harjantho, whose subsidiary Smart Energy operates a CNG refuelling station. ‘In February, it was only $1.28 per kg.’

Smart, which also has about 650 diesel taxis, is one of two operators of CNG taxis, along with Prime Taxis. They will be joined later this month by SMRT, which will roll out Hyundai Azera CNG cabs.

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