HDT Singapore is closing down its taxi business for good after two years of operation here. Its last day of operation will be on December 18.
HDT is Singapore’s first electric-powered taxi operator, and is also the smallest taxi firm here. It has a fleet of about 100 electric taxis, with an earlier ambition to expand it to 800 by 2022.
However, the electric taxi operator said that it had been “wrestling with the slowing growth” of the business since the start of the year, and blamed the “prolonged, debilitating impact” of COVID-19 on the industry.
Their revenue has dropped more than 50 per cent since the onset of COVID-19, said the HDT spokesperson.
Following the news of closure, about 90 taxi drivers and four staff members were let go.
Unlike other taxi and private-hire companies, HDT adopts an employment model instead of letting its drivers be self-employed. It paid them salaries, along with benefits like annual leave.
It reportedly paid drivers a starting monthly wage of S$1,900, inclusive of Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions, which can grow to a gross pay of $3,200 if a revenue target of $7,250 is reached.
Those retrenched will be paid a monthly salary for each year of service, on a pro-rata basis.
HDT said that drivers will also be given their annual wage supplement, have their Medisave accounts topped up till the end of the year, and be given a one-off retrenchment benefit as a “gesture of gratitude”.
It will also work together with the National Taxi Association (NTA) to help the retrenched staff find new jobs with other taxi operators and transport companies.
Mr Ang Hin Kee, executive adviser of NTA, noted that the taxi industry has lost “40 per cent of ridership demand” due to zero tourists and nightlife, as well as very few entertainment venues.
Even as the economy gradually reopens, ridership is only at around 60 to 70 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels. This severely impacts the revenue streams of drivers and taxi companies.
HDT in particular, took a bigger hit as their drivers could not “deliver the targets” to match their salary, commented Mr Ang.
Moving forward, HDT said that it will be focusing on other green transport solutions like electric buses and trucks, as well as the leasing of electric vehicles.
It also provides point-to-point bus services, EV concierge services, vehicle rentals and school transport.
Featured Image Credit: HDT Singapore