SMRT Corporation Ltd. (SMRT) has announced that its full fleet of 30 London taxis is now fully operational, with the second and final batch of 15 new vehicles ready to take on passengers today. This full fleet doubles the availability of vehicles for passengers with special travel needs, particularly those using motorised and larger-than-normal wheelchairs.
"We have a tight-knit community of London taxi drivers, many of whom have established long-time relationships with their passengers. Beyond expanding and improving our hardware, we are also looking to develop their “software” – training is available so that drivers can better assist passengers with mobility impairments." said Mr Benny Lim, Senior Vice President of SMRT Roads.
“We are confident that our efforts in doubling the availability of our fleet of London taxis, coupled with enhanced training offered to drivers, will translate to enhanced comfort and convenience to passengers with special travel needs.” Mr Benny Lim added.
Mr Patrick Lim, 60, has been driving a London taxi for 22 years, “We London taxi drivers work as a team to serve our customers. The 15 additional vehicles is good news for my customers and me, because it is easier for me to help them get taxis, even when I am unable to drive that day.”
London taxi driver Abdul Latiff Bin Jaiman, 62, also believes in putting our customers first. He recalls having once picked up a long-time client who is wheelchair bound as early as 3am in the morning. “Sometimes I offer to make stopovers, because it can be a challenge for my passengers to seek alternative modes of transportation otherwise.”
Besides on-the-job training on serving passengers with special travel assistance, SMRT runs a mentorship programme where experienced London taxi drivers are paired with new drivers. This enables knowledge transfer and the sharing of insights on customer service, as well as the passing on of industry know-how such as how drivers can maximize the many benefits of these vehicles to make it a more comfortable ride for their passengers.
The roll out of the 30 London taxis in March and July this year received support from the Ministry of Social and Family Development, which gave a $3.1 million grant to cover Certificate of Entitlement (COE) and Additional Registration Fee (ARF) costs. A London-trained technical specialist has conducted quality checks on this new fleet of 15 vehicles, prior to their release to the hirers. This will ensure that issues previously encountered by the earlier batch will be managed effectively. In addition, system enhancements and vehicle servicing have been implemented to the complete fleet of 30 London taxis.
The London taxi is the only type of taxi in Singapore that offers ample space for high-backed or motorised wheelchairs. SMRT also has one Hyundai Starex taxi that is specially equipped with fully automated access facilities to accommodate passengers using normal wheelchairs.
SMRT Corporation Ltd (SMRT) is Singapore’s premier multi-modal public transport operator. SMRT serves millions of passengers daily by offering a safe, reliable and comprehensive transport network that consists of an extensive MRT and light rail system which connects seamlessly with its island-wide bus and taxi operations. SMRT also markets and leases the commercial and media spaces within its transport network, and offers engineering consultancy and project management as well as operations and maintenance services, locally and internationally.