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Old June 25th, 2004, 01:05 PM   #141
ignoramus
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Almost every transport related project appears to be delayed nowdays. The ezlink card, the Circle Line, the North East Line and the GPS System. The boards displaying bus arrival times at bus stops have also been scrapped too. All these were supposed to have the latest technology applied on them. What happened to the days of the North South Line and the rest of the older MRT Network. They may be more inferior technology wise, but they have been rather reliable and they do not result in higher fares or delays that much.
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Old June 25th, 2004, 01:52 PM   #142
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maybe the monopoly is slackening...

but i dont really mind slightly higher fares if it means more conveniences like bus waiting times and increased frequencies.
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Old June 26th, 2004, 07:47 PM   #143
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The New Paper - 27 Jun 2004

Nets vs ez-link Two cards to pay ERP?

LTA exploring use of ez-link card for ERP, alongside CashCard
Potential savings of more than $1m a year for LTA from ez-link
By Melvin Singh& Tan May Ping

IS it time for an alternative to Nets' CashCard when paying ERP? The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is studying the use of the ez-link card for Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) payment, giving consumers an alternative to Nets.

Nets is owned by a consortium of local banks. If LTA proceeds with the plan, there is potential for a consortium of foreign banks to come up with a similar cashless system for a variety of transactions using the ez-link card.

The benefits are huge, said experts. Retailers may be able to bargain for a better deal. After all, with Nets monopolising the market now, retailers have little choice but to accept Nets charges of up to 0.5 per cent for each transaction.

And for consumers, it means the option of putting your money in a foreign bank and using a cashless system at the supermarket too. For example, John, who is servicing a home loan with ABN-Amro, can now move his savings account to the same bank instead of maintaining it in a local bank just for the Nets payments.

If ABN-Amro is part of a consortium of banks that comes up with an alternative to the Nets, John can still enjoy the cashless system for payment.

Of course this means retailers may have to maintain two cashless systems. Not a problem, said retailers.

After all, there's already a separate machine each for Visa, American Express and Mastercard. What's another one?

'They take up a lot of space. But if there is a demand from customers, retailers wouldn't mind taking on another service,' said a spokesman for the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA).

It makes little difference because the machines are usually provided free-of-charge, added the spokesman.

For nearly 20 years, Nets has dominated the lucrative cashless payment scene.

In 2002, Nets made a profit of more than $7 million after tax.

There is also the CashCard, which is owned by Nets.

After the LTA-owned EZ-Link introduced its own card (the ez-link card) it decided the micropayment market was just too big to ignore.

Small transactions are worth $6 to $8 billion a year.

But while the CashCard has been raking in profits, EZ-Link has been struggling. To date, it has not recovered the operating costs of $18 million a year.

Well, LTA seems to be saying enough is enough.

Each time a car zips through the ERP gantry, a motorist pays via the CashCard. Nets makes a tidy profit for facilitating the transaction.

LTA isn't willing to say how much, but experts estimate, based on what Nets charges retailers (up to 0.5 per cent of each transaction), that it's anywhere up to $3 million a year.

Said an LTA spokesman: 'LTA bears the cost of transaction fees paid to Nets. For commercial reasons, we cannot release the costs per ERP transaction.

'Revenue from ERP fees is channelled to the Government's Consolidated Fund. The Government separately pays LTA a management fee to fund its operations.'

But instead of using its own ez-link card, LTA is forced to use the CashCard.

LTA told The New Paper it is looking into the possibility of using its own ez-link card. That's a potential savings of $3 million a year for the LTA.

An LTA spokesman said: 'We are currently looking into improving the design of the ERP In-Vehicle Unit (IU). As part of this study, we are also looking into the feasibility of developing an IU that can accept both CashCard and ez-link card for ERP payment.

'We see benefit in this as there are some 6 million ez-link cards in the hands of users.'

HUGE POTENTIAL

LTA said studies are still in the preliminary stage.

The potential for an alternative to Nets is huge. Nets achieved a turnover of $50 million in 2002.

Foreign banks with a Qualifying Full Bank (QFB) status have been eyeing a system similar to Nets.

The six QFBs are HSBC, ABN-Amro Bank, Maybank, Citibank, Standard Chartered and BNP-Paribas.

ABN-Amro's head of consumer banking, Mr Andrew Liew, had earlier said it had been a long standing requirement for the bank to be part of Nets - or an equivalent network.

Since that hasn't worked out, what better way than to start with the ez-link card?

When asked about the latest development, Stanchart's head of consumer banking in Singapore, Mr Wilson Chia, said the bank 'would certainly give due consideration to any new development that benefits our customer'.

Mr Chia said that even though the Nets and EZ-Link systems might end up providing parallel services, Stanchart would like to participate in both because it gives customers more choices.

'It's just like how banks and retailers accept both Visa and Mastercard,' added Mr Chia.

Stanchart became a partner of Nets but is limited to providing top-up services for the CashCard.

Maybank's head of retail financial services, Ms Pollie Sim, agreed that consumers would welcome the added choice and convenience.

She said of the LTA's announcement: 'It is a positive move as the consumers will now have an alternative platform for ERP payment. We would evaluate (any) business proposition accordingly.'

Stanchart's Mr Chia said it was a logical move on EZ-Link's part to venture into ERP payment as it was already being used for the bus and MRT systems.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

h2>Consumers, the biggest winners

IF foreign banks do form a separate consortium with EZ-Link, the biggest winners would be the consumers.

For starters, they will have more choices since the Nets and EZ-Link systems would compete for users.

That also implies that consumers would be able to keep money in banks other than the three local ones without having to forgo the convenience of cashless payment.

Two competing systems could also drive down the transaction fees charged by the companies.

That would benefit consumers, said the Consumers Association of Singapore's executive director, Mr Seah Seng Choon.

Mr Seah said: 'With competition, there is a possibility that transaction costs can be driven down. Hopefully, this would be translated to lower costs to consumers.'


And now that EZ-Link might be expanding the use of its card, it should also consider lowering the cost of acquiring the card, said Mr Seah.

Buyers now have to pay $5, which is non-refundable, for an ez-link card.

But it's not only consumers who benefit. Retailers, too, will have more choices.

A spokesman for the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) said that more competition by cashless service providers is good for retailers.

Said the SRA spokesman: 'If there are two service providers, retailers would view the propositions on both sides, meaning that the new provider's rates would have to be as competitive or even lower than that of the old provider.'

This competition could force down the service fee paid by retailers to the providers.

Ultimately, if there is a demand by customers for a particular provider, retailers normally accept it for their customers' convenience, said the spokesman.

'But in the end, my feeling is that the market is too small for two providers,' added the spokesman.

Copyright © 2004 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old June 27th, 2004, 12:50 AM   #144
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Its about time! The contactless smart card is already the medium for payment of carpark charges and toll charges in Hong Kong and Malaysia respectively. Its about time the ezlink card functions as truly a transportation all in one card, after all, that was its main function. Settle that before moving onto other areas like McDonalds purchase payments where hardly anyone ever uses and I have seen none yet so far. Have you all used it? And I remember there's a branch of Cold Storage or NTUC FairPrice that accepts that form of payment too. Do they expect that we carry so much in our ezlink cards? These are all places that we usually spend more than 10 dollars in, not like public transportation a dollar plus etc. If they wanted to go into other areas why not start by enabling us to pay for drinks at the machine or even public phones just in case we don't have our mobiles with us. Hong Kong even maxmises the use of its high capacity cards by creating a membership scheme that rewards commuters for travelling with them using the card. Sure they started off much earlier, but even so back then they did progress at a very fast pace in coming up with new ideas. A recent example, the Taipei EasyCard, launched only last year I think. It is already accepted in many areas, perhaps even more than the areas in Singapore, and its web site is frequently updated, user friendly and eye pleasing and it even has a member system now.
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Old June 27th, 2004, 05:48 AM   #145
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i've used the macdonald thing... quite convenient... i think there should just be an all in one card... so troublesome to have more than one.

about carrying alot of money in ezlink card, you could just use giro perhaps?
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Old June 29th, 2004, 09:07 AM   #146
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Time is GMT + 8 hours
Posted: 29 June 2004 0840 hrs

Open up transit-link scheme, LTA urged
By Tay Tsen-Waye, TODAY

SINGAPORE : According to a recent report, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is studying the use of the ez-link card for Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) payment and this could possibly break the dominance now enjoyed by Nets.

But far from worrying about competition, electronic payment services company Nets said it welcomed the prospect.

In fact, it hopes the new spirit of competition will lead the LTA to open up the transit-link payment system for MRT and bus services to Nets as well.

Said Nets chief executive officer Poh Mui Hoon: "If selected areas of operations are going to be opened up, or more payment methods are to be introduced, then it should apply across the board and not selectively in certain areas. And that would include the transit system."

And if given the opportunity to offer the CashCard payment system to bus and train commuters, Nets would be "very keen", she said. "We have indicated our interest in going into transit in the past. If the Government is going to make a move to introduce certain competition, then it should be across the board ..."

While acknowledging that an alternative payment system could potentially take away "some" of Nets' ERP business - worth more than $74 million last year - Ms Poh was confident that with the pervasiveness and efficiency of CashCard services, it would remain the more attractive choice for consumers. "Whatever the final decision, the ultimate beneficiary is the consumer. And that's the point of any good business," she said.

But would it be fair to pit the CashCard against the ez-link card, since the latter charges a non-refundable five-dollar fee?

Ms Poh said: "Why should you limit (the options) - Why should the consumer be put in a situation where he has to use a particular card - It's about choice, isn't it?"

And though she agreed in principle that competition is welcome in the ERP arena, Ms Poh was sceptical as to whether a painless system could be put in place.

Using the ez-link card for ERP payments would require the development of a new in-vehicle unit (IU) capable of accepting both cards. Ms Poh wonders if this might not translate to additional costs for the driver. "If you are already paying X dollars, why should you change it? If you have a new car, the IU has to be priced competitively. Why would you pay for a more expensive IU?"

And even if the new IU was accepted, Ms Poh expressed confidence that the Nets CashCards, which can be used for payments at 30,000 points of access and with 19,000 merchants in Singapore, is ready for the competition.

"Nets has managed the ERP very well. Our CashCard is also in retail. So if any other parties wanted to come into those areas, they'll be welcome to compete, but they will have to deliver the value," she said.

Due to the large volume of Eftpos (electronic funds-transfer at point of sale) transactions processed by Nets, CashCard enjoys economies of scale, which Ms Poh said, lowers the cost to merchants.

Last year, Nets processed 7 billion transactions, accounting for more than $55 million in revenue - an increase from $50 million in 2002, but a marginal drop from $56 million in 2001.

And despite its market dominance in cashless payments, Nets is looking for ways to improve the value of its products by increasing its scope of usage.

Recently, it introduced the CashBack system at 193 outlets, including Singapore Post, NTUC Fairprice outlets, and BP stations. It is also looking into biometrics technology to improve the authentication of CashCard users.

And in terms of teaming up with foreign banks to offer a cashless system for a variety of transactions similar to the Nets' local consortium, Ms Poh said it was already working with Standard Chartered in its Eftpos system.

Said Ms Poh: "Nets has had 20 years of experience processing bank cards, ATM cards, debit cards and the Eftpos. We would be very keen to work with qualifying full banks (QFB) to see how we can offer a service. If they are interested to form an alternative network, Nets would be keen to see how to provide the switching services and manage the network. Nets has all the capabilities and the scale to help QFBs." - TODAY

Copyright © 2004 MCN International Pte Ltd
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Old July 1st, 2004, 08:26 PM   #147
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The New Paper - 02 Jul 2004

Leak on mobile camera locations? It's fine with us, say Traffic Police

HAS there been a leak about where the police are likely to set up mobile speed cameras?

An e-mail message has been going around, warning motorists about certain roads.

But the Traffic Police feel that's not such a bad thing, if it makes drivers more careful.

The e-mail lists 11 locations, two of them as 'verified'. It was not known who 'verified' this or how.

As these cameras are portable, they can be set up on any road.

They are supported by a tripod stand and can easily be hidden from view as they are not bulky.

A policeman standing anywhere along the road can operate the equipment by himself.

Using laser technology, the cameras detect speeding vehicles and capture images of the vehicle.

Police spokesman ASP Victor Keong would not say if the list was authentic.

But it does help, as drivers would observe the speed limit on the roads they think have mobile speed cameras, said the Traffic Police.

The commander of the Traffic Police, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Teo Kian Teck, said: 'That (sharing of information) itself is an indication of our enforcement impact. Traffic Police cannot stop them from sharing such information.

'If that sharing leads to better driving behaviour, we are totally fine with that.

'Ultimately, our aim is not to catch people but to deter them from speeding.

'We hope motorists will realise that speeding kills and that their time on the roads will be better spent being mindful of others rather than being focused on avoiding detection.'

The Traffic Police have stepped up enforcement in the last two years.

Last year, 130,385 traffic summonses were issued to motorists, compared with 106,903 in 2002.

These were for offences like beating the red light and speeding.

MORE SPEEDING TICKETS

From January to March this year, 13,173 speeding tickets were issued, 3,271 more than in the first quarter of last year.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Teo said: 'We want to ensure greater compliance from motorists in their driving behaviour.

'The Traffic Police would like to send a strong message to road users that we are continually on the lookout for serious violators.

'We will not hesitate to (take enforcement action) against them and pedestrians too, as all road users need to be made aware of their actions on the roads.

'Their actions affect not only their own safety, but that of others. All play a part in road safety.'

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hidden eyes - believe it or not

-Upper Serangoon Road, 9 to 11am ('verified')

-Farrer Road/Adam Road, 10am onwards

-East Coast Parkway after Bayshore exit, after 5pm

-Bartley Underpass

-Braddell Road, near the long pedestrian bridge near Singapore Press Holdings

-West Coast Highway, before the new McDonald's

-Tampines Expressway in both directions under the Tampines Flyover ('verified')

-Tampines Avenue 10

-Along Jalan Boon Lay from Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE), towards Jurong Point at the junction of Chin Bee Drive

-Clementi Avenue 6 from Pan Island Expressway to AYE, just before entering the underpass at the traffic light junction of Clementi Loop Road along Orchid Country Club.

Copyright © 2004 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old July 3rd, 2004, 05:20 AM   #148
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JULY 3, 2004
Comfort rewards more cabbies for service
Five per cent more Yellow-Top and Comfort cabbies get cash awards from Comfort Transportation for good service this year
By Jessica Lim

THE Land Transport Authority (LTA) may be coming down hard on cab companies for failing to keep accident rates down but yesterday, more drivers from the largest operator were rewarded for good service than the year before.

Comfort Transportation gave cash awards to 10,717 of the more than 11,000 full-time drivers of its Yellow-Top and Comfort taxis, a five per cent increase.

Eight out of 10 got at least $200 for not earning any demerit points.

About 1,400 received less while 70 got nothing - compared to last year's 2,800 underperformers.

About 1,600 did so well they got up to $600. One of them is Mr Anthony Chee, who received 11 commendations last year for his clean taxi, politeness and good knowledge of roads.

A cabby for almost 10 years, he recalls taking a woman about to give birth to hospital. 'I told her that I'll try to go as fast as I can while driving safely. At the hospital, I opened the door for her and went to get her a wheelchair.'

A clean taxi is such an obsession for Mr Chee that he would drive to a petrol kiosk to clean it if passengers had dirtied it. He said: 'That way, passengers who take my cab will be happy. Who wants to sit in a dirty taxi anyway?'

Comfort Transportation said it spent about $2.2 million on these rewards which, since 2001, were also given to relief drivers. About 130 relief drivers received token sums this year.

Last month, the LTA had warned the four main cab companies that they face a fine of up to $100,000 after next month if their accident rate did not go down.

In each of the past few months, their taxis had been in about 70 accidents, 17 more than what the LTA considers acceptable.

The chief operating officer of Comfort and Yellow-Top, Mr John Lee, hopes the award would encourage the drivers to continue providing good service.

Taxi-driver Chee shares his wish. 'Many times, the commendations I receive come unexpectedly. I hope other cabbies will do the same, that's good enough for me.'

Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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Old July 3rd, 2004, 07:04 AM   #149
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haiyar stupid speed cams. what's the speed limit on roads?
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Old July 3rd, 2004, 11:21 AM   #150
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Time is GMT + 8 hours
Posted: 03 July 2004 1247 hrs

Police detain 210 motorists for traffic offences

SINGAPORE : Traffic Police detained 210 motorists for various offences in a six-hour operation on Friday night.

Most were caught for speeding - 103 motorists!

A total of 18 motorists were stopped for drink driving, while 88 were found to have made illegal modifications to their vehicles.

One motorist was also arrested for driving without a valid driving licence.

The operation, which also involved Land Transport Authority enforcement officers, was conducted in Ang Mo Kio, Tampines, Clementi, and the Pan Island and Seletar Expressways.

The Traffic Police said regular operations helped raise awareness of road safety and get motorists to comply to traffic rules and regulations.

It said accidents due to speed-related factors had increased by 22 cases to 288 cases in the first three months of this year, compared to the same period last year.

Motorists convicted of speeding can be fined up to $2,000, jailed up to six months and have their driving licence suspended. - CNA

Copyright © 2004 MCN International Pte Ltd
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Old July 3rd, 2004, 03:35 PM   #151
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JULY 1, 2004
HALF-YEAR FIGURES LIKELY TO RISE 25%
Car sales set to hit all-time high
By Christopher Tan

THE number of cars sold in the first half of the year, which ended yesterday, is likely to exceed 47,000, a 25 per cent jump on the same period last year.

Preliminary figures, covering only members of the Motor Traders Association (MTA), show total passenger car sales in the first half at 43,000 to 44,000. This is up from the 34,540 registered in the first six months of last year.

Sales by MTA members account for 90 per cent of the market here. With total deliveries - including parallel imports - having crossed the 40,000 mark by last month, the overall first-half figure should be at least 47,000.

Unless momentum flags, last year's all-time record of 81,259 units sold will be broken.

Among the reasons for the strong demand, according to Citigroup Smith Barney research head Lim Jit Soon, was the fact that 'banks have been very aggressive in offering car loans, and that has made cars more affordable'.

One indicator can be seen in the number of cars scrapped, which has greatly surpassed Land Transport Authority (LTA) expectations.

In just the first five months of this year, LTA statistics show that 49,151 vehicles - the bulk of them cars - were taken off the road. This is 8 per cent more than last year.

The LTA's allocation of certificates of entitlement (COEs) to replace scrapped vehicles, for the whole of this year, is just 66,900.

Most motor traders expect an upward adjustment in October, though one commented: 'This year's COE quota is already a record. If more are released, the market may not be able to absorb them.'

Strong demand for cars has already driven COE premiums up by $5,000 to $8,000 since January - depleting savings from a cut in upfront vehicle taxes early this year.

Leading the runaway market, despite an ageing model line-up and newer products from rivals, is Toyota.

The marque remains the favourite, with distributor Borneo Motors delivering about 13,000 units in the first six months of this year, compared to 10,000 in the same period last year.

The Toyota Camry, launched in late 2001, still outpaces its arch-rival, the Nissan Cefiro. Up to May, 1,888 Camrys were registered, versus 1,336 Cefiros.

Borneo Motors managing director Mark Choong said buyer response to the recently introduced Thai-made Camry has been 'very good', but maintaining overall sales in the second half will be 'tough' as competition grows. He added that one new product is planned towards the end of the year.

Hyundai comes a distant second with sales of about 7,000, followed by Nissan at 6,500. Rounding out the top 10 are Honda, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Kia and newcomer Chevrolet.

Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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Old July 10th, 2004, 05:12 AM   #152
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JULY 10, 2004
NTU GRADUATION
Cellphone way to beat traffic jams
By Maria Almenoar

TIRED of being stuck in a traffic jam when rushing to a destination in a cab, graduand Liu Hui decided to find a way to avoid such frustrating situations.

As part of her final-year project at the School of Computer Engineering in Nanyang Technological University, she took a suggestion made by the sub-dean and turned it into a winning software.

It can relay up-to-date images of traffic situations on the expressways to mobile phones.

Her project attracted the attention of two telecommunications companies, Motorola and DNA Communications, which plan to offer the application in the new Motorola i830 phones to be launched next month.

'It was a combination of inspiration from my professor, an interest in this field of work and just hating traffic jams,' said the Singapore permanent resident who arrived here in 1998 from the eastern province of Shandong in China.

Miss Liu, an only child, came here on a scholarship. She decided to tap existing Land Transport Authority Web cameras and devise a way to transfer their still images to mobile phones.

The 23-year-old also figured out how to manipulate the size and quality of the images so they could be received clearly on a cellphone screen.

Miss Liu, who now works with Motorola as a software engineer, is part of the largest cohort of NTU students graduating next week - 5,426 from seven of the university's schools.

Her father, who has a manufacturing business in China, and her mother, who markets tablecloths, are here for her graduation.

A total of 11 ceremonies will be held from Monday to July 17. The 5,000-plus graduates include the pioneer batches from four master's programmes - bioinformatics, technology and operations management, knowledge management, and environmental science and engineering.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, NTU's deputy president, Professor Er Meng Hwa, said: 'We are very proud of our students and we hope that the education and their experience at NTU will come in useful in whichever path they choose to embark on.'

NTU will have graduates from more varied disciplines in the coming years. They include the first batch of students from its School of Biological Sciences, who will graduate next year, and the intakes for two new schools - humanities and social sciences; and art, design and media - which start this academic year. Its School of Physical Sciences opens next year.

Miss Liu, whose graduation ceremony is on Monday, says it is highly likely she will be part of another such NTU occasion in a couple of years, as she is hoping to join a master's programme there soon.

'There's just so much to learn and find out about. And who knows, I might invent something again,' she said.

Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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Old July 11th, 2004, 04:52 PM   #153
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JULY 12, 2004
Stiff competition driving more cabbies off the road
By Christopher Tan

MORE cabs on the road may be good news to the commuter, but cabbies unable to cope with the competition posed by the rising numbers are throwing in the towel.

Although none of the taxi operators would admit it, anecdotes from the industry point to more and more drivers calling it a day and returning their vehicles.

'The market is quite saturated, and the going is quite tough,' said an industry source.

'Cabbies used to have a ready pool of relief drivers to share the rental of the vehicle, but these days, all these relief drivers have been sucked up by the new companies.'

According to Land Transport Authority data, Singapore's taxi fleet has grown by 5 per cent this year. As of May, there were 20,048 cabs on the road, compared with 19,132 the same time last year.

Since 1993, the taxi population has ballooned by 50 per cent. If one were to go back to 1984, it has almost doubled.

'The three new players - Smart Automobile, Trans-Cab and Premier Taxis - have already added 450 cabs to the market,' the source said.

And SMRT Taxis plans to increase its fleet to 3,000 by end of the year. It has about 2,000 now.

The Straits Times managed to track down several taxi drivers who have quit.

One, Mr L.C. Heng, 57, a veteran of 17 years, returned his cab to ComfortDelGro last month.

'I can't find relief drivers. All the relief drivers want to drive big taxis and new ones,' he said.

Mr Heng said he cannot afford to foot the cab's daily rental of about $80 himself. And it does not help that takings are down because of the enlarged cab population.

'Previously, I can make $100 a day, now I drive 12 hours and make only $40 to $50.'

He said he will switch to relief driving.

'Shorter hours, less stress, and it's easier for me to go on holiday,' he said. 'Also, there's not much benefit being the main hirer.'

Another driver, Mr Benson Lim, 56, quit last Friday.

'I've been driving for over 20 years, and it's only in the last three years or so that I can't find relief drivers,' he said, adding that he, too, might turn to relieving other cabbies.

Cabby C.K. Chan, 52, moaned: 'The market is very bad. Twelve years ago when I started, I could make $3,000 a month.

'Now, it's $1,500 - and only if I drive 12 hours a day.'

If not for contracts to ferry company workers, he would find it hard to make ends meet.

'People become taxi-drivers mostly because they can't find any other job,' he said. 'So if they quit, it means things must be quite bad.'

Ms Tammy Tan, spokesman for ComfortDelGro, Singapore's largest taxi operator with more than 16,000 cabs, said: 'We're unable to provide details on the return rate by our drivers, but it is slightly higher than in previous years.

'This is not unexpected though, given that the economy is picking up and there're three new cab companies around.'

SMRT Taxis, however, claimed it has not noted any change in the number of cabs returned, but an insider said 'those who quit are mainly the new ones... those who came in for a year or less' because they discover that 'it's not as easy as they thought'.

Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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Old July 13th, 2004, 01:55 PM   #154
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Originally Posted by babystan03
JULY 12, 2004
Stiff competition driving more cabbies off the road
By Christopher Tan

MORE cabs on the road may be good news to the commuter, but cabbies unable to cope with the competition posed by the rising numbers are throwing in the towel.

Although none of the taxi operators would admit it, anecdotes from the industry point to more and more drivers calling it a day and returning their vehicles.

'The market is quite saturated, and the going is quite tough,' said an industry source.

'Cabbies used to have a ready pool of relief drivers to share the rental of the vehicle, but these days, all these relief drivers have been sucked up by the new companies.'

According to Land Transport Authority data, Singapore's taxi fleet has grown by 5 per cent this year. As of May, there were 20,048 cabs on the road, compared with 19,132 the same time last year.

Since 1993, the taxi population has ballooned by 50 per cent. If one were to go back to 1984, it has almost doubled.

'The three new players - Smart Automobile, Trans-Cab and Premier Taxis - have already added 450 cabs to the market,' the source said.

And SMRT Taxis plans to increase its fleet to 3,000 by end of the year. It has about 2,000 now.

The Straits Times managed to track down several taxi drivers who have quit.

One, Mr L.C. Heng, 57, a veteran of 17 years, returned his cab to ComfortDelGro last month.

'I can't find relief drivers. All the relief drivers want to drive big taxis and new ones,' he said.

Mr Heng said he cannot afford to foot the cab's daily rental of about $80 himself. And it does not help that takings are down because of the enlarged cab population.

'Previously, I can make $100 a day, now I drive 12 hours and make only $40 to $50.'

He said he will switch to relief driving.

'Shorter hours, less stress, and it's easier for me to go on holiday,' he said. 'Also, there's not much benefit being the main hirer.'

Another driver, Mr Benson Lim, 56, quit last Friday.

'I've been driving for over 20 years, and it's only in the last three years or so that I can't find relief drivers,' he said, adding that he, too, might turn to relieving other cabbies.

Cabby C.K. Chan, 52, moaned: 'The market is very bad. Twelve years ago when I started, I could make $3,000 a month.

'Now, it's $1,500 - and only if I drive 12 hours a day.'

If not for contracts to ferry company workers, he would find it hard to make ends meet.

'People become taxi-drivers mostly because they can't find any other job,' he said. 'So if they quit, it means things must be quite bad.'

Ms Tammy Tan, spokesman for ComfortDelGro, Singapore's largest taxi operator with more than 16,000 cabs, said: 'We're unable to provide details on the return rate by our drivers, but it is slightly higher than in previous years.

'This is not unexpected though, given that the economy is picking up and there're three new cab companies around.'

SMRT Taxis, however, claimed it has not noted any change in the number of cabs returned, but an insider said 'those who quit are mainly the new ones... those who came in for a year or less' because they discover that 'it's not as easy as they thought'.

Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
I find this a bit silly... i mean, all those cab companies suddenly being born and those already in existence expanding...... it's like a badly time move isn't it? Don't you find it silly? Hmm.....
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Old July 15th, 2004, 07:05 PM   #155
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JULY 15, 2004
New device to help cabbies drive safely
By Goh Chin Lian

TRANSPORT giant ComfortDelgro is using a new camera and sensor system that can tell if a cabby is braking too abruptly or tailgating a vehicle, to improve driving safety.

Its new cabbies and those who have more than two accidents in a year will have to go for a driving session with the device tracking their every action on the road.

A driver being assessed will have four digital cameras mounted on his vehicle. These will record traffic conditions, the focus of the driver's eye and his head movement.

A sensor will pick up what a passenger would feel when the driver accelerates, brakes and turns a corner. A laptop computer will analyse the performance instantly.

The whole assessment takes about 90 minutes.

Comfort Driving Centre bought four units of the portable device at US$50,000 (S$85,700) each and will carry out the assessments for ComfortDelgro, the biggest cab owner here with 16,700 Comfort, Yellow-Top and CityCab taxis.

The move comes at a time when cabbies are being criticised for the number of accidents they get into.

The Land Transport Authority said last month that going by its monthly audits, cab companies have failed to keep a cap on the number of accidents.

Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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Old July 16th, 2004, 12:43 PM   #156
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Ha! Finally! But frankly. i doubt it'll have excellent results.
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Old July 19th, 2004, 06:44 AM   #157
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JULY 19, 2004
British buses to be Comfortingly familiar
By Neo Hui Min

LONDON - Soon a Singaporean boarding a bus in London may wonder if the driver took a wrong turn and ended up in the British capital by mistake.

That is because it will not be long before bus drivers here start wearing uniforms with a brand that is more familiar back home - ComfortDelgro.

Even the name of the London black cab booking service Comcab has a familiar ring to it. It, too, is part of the ComfortDelgro group.

One of Singapore's main transport companies is now among the top five players in London's competitive public transport environment. Known here as Metroline, ComfortDelgro's London bus operations have captured 12 per cent of the market share. It services 84 routes, mostly in the capital's north-western areas.

It also handles booking services for about 3,800 cabs in London, Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

ComfortDelgro acquired the business in 2000, after bus services here were privatised.

The British subsidiary contributes about $500 million to the group, just under a third of total group turnover. Last year, the total group turnover was $1.8 billion.

Metroline managing director Steve McAleavy said the company has since been actively branding its group's name in its communications.

Industry players who realise the bus company is now Singaporean-owned are always curious to find out what it means to be working for a company so far from home.

'People are used to the idea of working for European companies, but Singapore is over 6,000 miles away and seven or eight hours ahead,' said Mr McAleavy.

'Some people can't get their heads round to the idea of Singapore, it just stretches the imagination because it is so far away.'

Despite the distance, changes have come swiftly since the takeover, he said. The bus fleets have been renewed and buses are getting better engineering.

The Singaporean group has also invested heavily in technology, even fitting buses with a satellite positioning system that tells drivers where the next buses in front and behind them are in relation to their current location.

'If you lived in London you would have experienced waiting ages for a bus, and then all of a sudden, three or four of them would arrive at once,' Mr McAleavy said. 'This new GPRS system helps drivers to gauge the distances between each other.'

About 280 of its 1,000 or so buses now boast the system, and it will soon be fitted to the rest.

The modernisation of the operations is a significant change to a sector which has not always been known for technological innovation.

The company is now trying to increase its market share against 31 other bus companies in London. It is also awaiting the coming privatisation of a quarter of Dublin's state-owned bus services, with intentions to buy some of the routes.

Finance director Steve Ellis said: 'We have big ambitions.'

Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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Old July 19th, 2004, 02:26 PM   #158
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Business Times - 19 Jul 2004

DaimlerChrysler aims for mass-market hydrogen-fuelled cars in 2014

SINGAPORE - Car giant DaimlerChrysler said on Monday it hopes to sell pollution-free, fuel-cell cars to the public within a decade but acknowledges that making them cheap enough will be its toughest challenge.

'We can expect to see a commercialisation of fuel-cell cars in ten years,' DaimlerChrysler's Head of Technology and Environmental Communications Edith Meissner said in Singapore as the company delivered five cars for road testing in the Southeast Asian city.

Since 1994, DaimlerChrysler has invested US$1 billion (S$1.7 billion) in the technology, which powers vehicles with compressed hydrogen. The engines emit no pollutants as the only waste material is pure water.

Prototype hydrogen-fuelled vehicles typically cost US$1 million to US$2 million each, including the US$200,000 cost of making the fuel cell itself, according to industry estimates.

'At the moment, the cost is the biggest challenge we face. We are sure that with the economies of scale and the development of the techniques we will reach the goal,' she added.

DaimlerChrysler is loaning five Mercedes-Benz A-class 'F-Cell' cars to companies and a government department in Singapore for two years of road testing. It did not say what each model cost.

Worldwide there'll be 60 such DaimlerChrysler vehicles in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Berlin by the end of the year, the company said.

Singapore was chosen as one of the test sites because of its tropical climate and government support for cleaner technologies, DaimlerChrysler's fuel cell director Dr Andreas Truckenbrodt said.

It'll cost S$50 to refuel the car with a tank that can travel 100 miles (160 kilometres). Refuelling can be done at a specially equipped gas station in the eastern part of Singapore.

Copyright © 2004 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Old July 19th, 2004, 06:38 PM   #159
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JULY 19, 2004
New flyover to finish ring road project
By Goh Chin Lian

A NEW flyover linking Braddell Road to Lornie Road will be built by the end of 2007, the last project in a S$400 million-plus exercise to direct motorists away from the city centre by easing traffic on an outer ring of roads.

Those who use the flyover will be able to bypass two junctions, one at the main entrance to Mount Alvernia Hospital, the other at MacRitchie Reservoir.

It takes at least two to three minutes to clear the junctions now during the morning rush hour.

The 1.5km flyover will start in front of Braddell-Westlake Secondary School, in Braddell Road, run above the existing Marymount Flyover and merge into a viaduct that links Thomson Road to Lornie Road.

Construction work on the project is expected to begin by the end of the year.

The LTA has so far spent S$400 million to build two viaducts, four flyovers and six underpasses, as well as other road works, to ease the traffic at 12 junctions along Bartley, Braddell, Lornie, Adam and Farrer roads, as well as along Queensway up to the Ayer Rajah Expressway.

Engineers of the former Public Works Department came up with the idea of a route that bypasses the city in the early 1970s, so motorists need not enter the city centre to traverse the island.

Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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Old July 20th, 2004, 09:55 AM   #160
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JULY 20, 2004
Perched on taxi-tops, moving and soaring
By Suryani Omar

TAXI-TOP advertising is going places.

In response to surging demand from advertisers, ComfortDelGro has decided to dramatically increase the number of its taxis with roof-top advertisements.

By May next year, the number of these taxi-top ads will leap by 3,000 or 38 per cent from the current 7,800 taxis out of the company's total fleet of 16,700.

The company says that demand for these constantly moving ads is strongest from banks, telcos and camera makers.

Comfort Ads, a part of ComfortDelGro, is the biggest player in the taxi-top ad sector with 85 per cent market share on its Comfort, City Cab and Yellow-Top taxi.

SMRT taxis also carry such ads.

ComfortDelGro is the world's second-largest land transport company.

In an interview with The Straits Times, the general manager of Comfort Ads, Mr Thomas Ang, said that with the liberalisation of the banking sector, ad campaigns for credit card and unsecured loans from banks have increased.

'Business picked up around mid-May and demand has been growing steadily.

'Banks, telcos and camera companies have upped advertisements by about 20 per cent.'

Comfort Ads introduced the taxi-top ads 10 years ago, starting out with just 750 taxis.

Mr Ang said that the key appeal of taxi-top ads was the wide reach they achieved simply because they are 'on the move'.

One company that is very satisfied with this form of advertising is travel portal Zuji.

'Cabs are highly visible, mobile and, therefore, a perfect choice to carry the Zuji message to large numbers of people in Singapore,' said Zuji's director for marketing, Mr Philip Ho.

Ms Carolyn Kan, managing director of M&C Saatchi, which worked on Zuji's taxi-top ad campaign, agreed.

For the campaign, 250 cabs were painted to look like popular brands of taxis in Sweden, Jamaica, Brazil and the United States.

In an e-mail interview, Ms Kan said: 'Taxi advertising was chosen primarily because it presented an opportunity for a fresh way to associate Zuji with travel amongst our target audience.

'This launch campaign of which taxi advertising was key, doubled Zuji's brand awareness and quadrupled sales in just three months from the launch.'

Comfort Ads' taxi-top ads make up 7.5 per cent of the total market share for the outdoor advertising industry.

The outdoor advertising industry is worth about $100 million a year.

Advertising rates for taxi tops range between $75 and $110 per month for a cab, depending on the number and the type of taxi-top chosen.

Copyright @ 2004 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
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