Life of a Taxi Driver

It was the last thing on my mind to become one. Being past 60 and unemployable I have decided to take up taxi driving. It probably the only job we can work to age 75 and only for Singaporean. Just started on a 10 days training course I look forward to the day I get a license. It was quite a while since I get to attend class. The problem is if the air-con get too cold I tend to become a ‘sleeping beauty’. Now I worry whether I will pass with flying colors. With nothing to my name I am just happy to be alive and kicking, to drive, to teach chess in school and play badminton.

The course I am taking now seem very heavy and it was meant for us to pass out as professional taxi driver. How many are taxi drivers or aspiring to be one. What are your grievance or joy, share with us.


43 thoughts on “Life of a Taxi Driver”

  1. Hi Dan
    Its never too late to start on anything you want to do.
    At one time in my life, I too wanted to drive a taxi. I said I could go and pick passengers anytime I feel like it or just a hang out with friends and use the taxi to ferry them around. But my thoughts were dashed when I was told about the new ruling – clocking a certain number of hours per day. That put my taxi driving option to a halt.
    Good luck Dan, in your new endeavour. I have taken a lift from you before, many years ago and I will flag down your taxi anytime.

  2. Congratulations Dan, on your next adventure in life. It takes a lot of courage to pickup a new skill. Let us know once you are on the road with your new licence and we will all support you. You go, man !!
    BR winnie tan

  3. Dan
    I have no experience as a taxi driver, but I did vegetable delivery for 3 years. It was the best job I have had over the 30 years of my working life. It was the only time I would sing along to the music in my van and I always have a joke for my customers. Before that I use to drive to work with music but I was very intense thinking and plotting over office work. I only have fake smiles for people who would benefit me.
    I hope you will also find taxi driving an enjoyable experience…. that is all that matter.

  4. Thanks Caroline and Winnie for your words of encouragement and support.
    Tian Soon, you seem hale and hearty, how did you maintained your form and thanks for sharing with us a part of your life.

  5. Hi Dan

    A change of career midway through life is exciting. I was a secretary for 30 years before I switch to teaching more than 10 years ago. Time really flies… I’ve been thinking of doing something really different again ~ maybe selling cookies in the Famous Amos or Bread Talk outlets ~ or even being a hairdresser. Ah ha ~ still thinking….

    All the best to you Dan for success and happiness in your new endeavour.


  6. Hi Dan,
    Some 10 years ago, I was also thinking about the possibility of driving a taxi when I retire. But, then I wanted to pick up pretty young girls only. I still think driving a taxi is a good retirement job, but dont sleep on the job.

    Please share us your experience when you finish your taxi course and when you start driving. You might just encourage others to follow suit.

    Terence Seah

  7. Hi Gabriella,
    Yes it never too late for you to switch job again. We need to keep ourselves occupy with work or hobbies to keep us sane.
    Terence, thanks for the nice tip. Will keep you inform of my progress.

  8. Hi Dan

    It is an alternative norm in Singapore to turn to taxi driving once you are above 40’s and out of job unless you are a consultant and service support.
    As in all job discipline is of utmost important, knowledge of roads (at least there is GPS to assist) all the more driving taxi. Need to cover the rental fee and gas before you start earning your due. Cannot afford to ‘lah kopi’ everytime-(especially you have a group of kakis who will conveniently call you any time.)
    Driving taxi without the need to support the family finance is definitely a good experience and joy – getting to meet all sorts of people through conversation to the passengers.
    I was a weekend relief driver for my eldest brother then, slightly more than ten years ago. Without the burden of earning an income then to let him have a rest. There was no satellite booking, not so much fast rules and regulation, can even have some side income bringing tourists for shopping.
    The saying luck is important which can be quite true besides knowing your job through experience (that is where the “lau cheow” will tell you). You can go round for an hour or two without picking any passenger especially in the early hour of the weekend.
    When catching a potential passenger in sight but suddenly another cab will cut into your path right in front of you, that’s the complaint of reckless taxi driver arises but deep inside you just want to break the duck egg of no income for the day.
    I gave up the licence years back due to health problem. LTA requires licence holder to have yearly medical check once you reach 60 then.
    Dan happy driving a taxi and a total new experience. Do share with us when you are on the taxi driver seat.

    All the best

  9. I think the taxi business is booming. I see many cabs plying the roads but they are all either busy or on call. It’s really difficult to get a cab from my place. Some cab drivers have regular clients that call them when they need a cab. A female cab driver told me she had an elderly lady client who would call her to ferry her to watch an opera and this lady would pay her $30 per trip! Wow, so good!

    I hope the cab companies have a conscience and do not raise the cab rental fees just because business is booming. I like to see helpful, courteous cab drivers able to make a decent living without having to drive for more than 10 hours a day!

    Dan, if you are a full-time cab driver, I shall tell you a sector of the cab market you could focus on. There is plenty of business in this obscure sector.

  10. Thanks Lam for sharing with us your experiences and for your good wishes.
    Jassmine, nowaday taxi drivers have to be very careful as LTA impose a lot of penalties like demerit points, fine and suspension. Will be anxious to get my license and get good tips from you.

  11. Hi Dan! Good for you to break new ground as a cab driver. You will be your own boss and meet all kinds of people – some nice, some not-so-nice but hey, you speed up and drop the nasty ones fast ya? Nowadays cab drivers are more educated and it’s good the standard has risen.
    Congratulations on your new venture and study hard ok? I understand you can study online.


  12. Hi Kenneth,
    I am really looking forward to start driving. The new requirement to clock 250000km per day is an advantage to us taxi driver as it ensure we are on the road to survive. I like your sense of humor regarding trading in Forex or stock trading at your age.
    Ros, online study was phase out. Thanks for your encouragement to spur on.

  13. Dear Dan,
    I have been driving a taxi on & off for 10 years since I lest my last job. I will just share some of my personal experience with you. As you say it, there is little hope that we get employed and even if we do the salary is low. Taxi driving, I say, is the best paid MANUAL labour job. You can expect to earn $1000 a month (the minimum salary for cleaners) to $6000 (it is true) for hardworking and/or money minded individuals. You get a FREE car to use and don’t need a car or rather in my case I cannot afford a car. The advantages are the flexible working hours. You have to decide whether you are a Day or Night person.If you prefer working at night which is cooler then work the night shift. Of course, if you hire the taxi on your own and drive alone you can drive anytime but you have to pay double. I would avise you to start as a Relief driver since you are brand new. I wou

  14. Dear Vincent,
    Thanks for sharing so much about being a taxi driver with us. By the way can you disclose who you are driving for?
    I made a mistake saying that we have to clock 250000km a day when it should be 250km a day. Huh, nobody noticed but Joy.

  15. Actually I plan to join you in your coming karaoke session so I will fill you in as I believe you eill have many questions. When I first started there are 1001 questions , even how the meter works, because different companies hsve slightly different meter. I am driving a London cab now as a relief driver, SMRT.

  16. Yesterday afternoon in HK i took a taxi to its airport. The driver was an engineer before he retire at age 55. His wife ask him to be productive instead of spending time ‘yum cha’ with friends every day. Now driving taxi he also organise tour for students in HK to tour Sg about twice a year. He also organised tour to mainland China for Hongkonger. He also work in Italy before. Beside speaking Cantonese he speaks English and mandarin too. From the conversation I know he is knowledgeable of the society he lives in and is happy. I hope to ‘yum cha’ with him when he next organised a trip to Sg.

    Dan, I wish you all the best in your new endeavour!

    Live. Laugh. Be Happy. :)

  17. Hi Dan
    In your post you wrote you teach chess in school. Could you elaborate a little more on this? I would like to learn chess from you and in return teach you something in return. What do you think of this idea of exchange? Cool, hor. lol!

  18. Hi Johnny,
    Appreciate your kind wishes!
    Jassmine, yes I am now teaching up to 5 different schools chess for primary students on a part time basis. It definitely a good barter trade to teach you chess but I am curious wat new tricks can you teach an old dog like me.
    When talking about chess I am all excited as daily I play online with players from around the world. Lightning chess usually last within 3-5 minutes. There is so much to know about learning chess, like tactics, strategies, combinations, sacrifices and thinking ahead.

  19. Hee hee Dan

    Driving a taxi is Iike playing chess…you need to know your position and your destination, outmaneuver your co-taxi opponents, lightning moves between traffic and checking the rear view mirror for cops!

    I think you’d have no problem getting your license…

  20. Hi Dan
    Teaching chess in school – interesting lobang! lol! About old dogs and new tricks, perhaps learning hanyu pinying? Venue and time are the perennial problems. Hmm..

  21. Thanks Kenneth, I certainly looking forward to a new set of experience driving a taxi.
    Jassmine, I have put behind those hanyin pinyin things. If you find time to drop by at Kolam I would be glad to impart some skills in chess to you.

  22. Hi Dan,

    Goondu mahjong player me – bought a portable mahjong set from online deal offer, thought what a steal for $16.00 only – everything thrown in, very impressive looking on the computer. Went with great expectation to carry a portable foldable normal set – but iyo-yo how would I know it’s the pigmy version. Now don’t you all laugh, who knows it might be better than your card type? Will bring it along since it’s so easy to carry – hmm…… see if I can stuff it in my handbag.

  23. Hi Dan
    Thank you for your proffered free chess lessons. Unfortunately, I’m not free on weekends. When you choose a weekday afternoon, I’ll try my best to join in. :)

  24. Hi Dan, I have been driving a cab since retiring from a clerical post 10 years ago. I am driving as a relief driver in the morning and cannot drive the night shift now as ones eyesight fails as he gets older. Well it is quite correct to say that you need a lot of luck in this job and you need to be knowleagable about the roads and building of SG although it is just a “small dot”. ;). Good luck to you Dan.

  25. Hi Leow,
    Thanks for sharing and hope to meet up with you one of these days.
    Hallelujah I passed all the 4 module! Not easy lah, first attempt 4 modules, pass 2 only. Next day took 2 modules, pass 1 failed 1 again. Today took the last module and I pass on the third attempt.
    All multiple choice questions and quite tricky. You must be familiar with the roads and shortest routes to the destinations and whether to go by PIE, ECP, AYE, SLE, KJE, TPE, MICE and what have you.

  26. Hi Dan
    Congratulations on passing the taxi-driving tests! When do you start driving a cab? I need to use a cab next Tues about 2pm. If you are cruising in the vicinity of Serangoon Central, do give me a call. Am happy to give a fellow member support in his endeavour. :)

  27. Hi Jassmine,
    Thanks for the good wishes. I am waiting for the license to be issue and have not started driving. Will let you know once I am ready.

  28. Hi Dan,
    Being reading all the thread on your life as a taxi driver till the news you got your license. Congratulation and an exciting time for a new job ahead. . For one to love and teach chess, you have to be a strategic thinker as you need to read many steps ahead. Hope to meet up with you one day to hear your experience. Have a retired mahjong kaki taxi driver who skip driving once a while to play mahjong hoping to make an easier income on the table than driving for that day, haha. Not sure if he is a SHC member but would definitely qualify.


  29. Hi Leon,
    I think we last met at the Westerlies lunch if I am correct. Yes I will be kept busy with teaching chess and driving a taxi. I was a property broker until last month when I gave up my license. I regretted so much and reapply and have to wait 2 months before I got back the license. Now I can hopefully use the taxi to drive my clients around. Three kind of trade I am doing but master of none.

  30. (a group of SHC ladies go outing)

    Eh girls it’s Dan! Hello Dan can you please take us to kolam ayer cc?
    (When arrive)
    Aiyo Dan you might as well join us lah. So Dan sings and dance and drink and forget about his taxi! (And his hirer bumps his head into the wall!)

    But I think it’s a good job for you Dan as you can kill several birds with one stone:
    1. Promote SHC to your chatty passengers
    2. Match make them to SHC singles if you see they are eligible
    3. Be a tour guide especially to Indonesian tycoon and Chinese taipan.

    However, must listen carefully hor. Don’t take pax to River Valley when they want to go Limau Bali! ?

  31. Wow Frisna, you are a good scriptwriter. You have given me a lot of good ideas that will keep me busy till Armageddon. Dun worry about location, I started driving at age 20.

  32. I have been driving a taxi for over a month and finding it quite a challenge! Not easy I would say as a lot of concentration required. Still trying to find a relief driver. My hearing is not too good when my passengers wanted to go to Pandan Gardens but I ended sending them to Pandan Valley.
    Just a few nights ago I drove the taxi to my sister’s place in Lengkok Bahru to collect my laundry and it was past midnight. After collecting I open the boot and put in the bag and closed the boot. I was about to get into the taxi when I realized the key was missing and the car was locked. What happen, did I left the key in the taxi or left it in the house? I was frantic and started to search all over.
    Even my spare key was in the car. Seems like I have to call the locksmith or SMRT service center but it was past midnight. Quite likely I have to spend the night at my sister’s.
    In the end I found the key and got on my way happily!
    Question, any one can tell me how I found the key?
    Desperate Dan.

  33. Karen,
    Good try, no lah. If in the laundry bag how am I to retrieve it when the car is locked.
    Not in the house, not on the road side, not in my pocket but ‘somewhere over the rainbow’?

  34. Judy, thank for trying. As mentioned in my last comment oredi, not in the house.
    Someone suggested, the key in the gap between the boot and back windscreen, in my hand, in my sling bag (but my sling bag also in the car), on the roof of the taxi, in the ignition, all wrong wrong wrong!
    Ready for one final clue, ‘it having a jolly good times somewhere, somehow’?

  35. just sharing…
    Today I took a cab. The driver was a Malay and in the cab I commented that he was working on the second day of Hari Raya and he replied that it was ok to go back to work and we started to chat. When the cab reached my destination, I looked at the fare metre and noticed the low fare. I told him his metre was faulty and he answered a little sheepishly that he had forgotten to turn on the metre at the beginning!.
    The point of the sharing is to show that cabbies do make mistakes and that it’s normal.
    P/s. The story has a happy ending. :)

  36. Jassmine, it happen to me a few time and I ended being the loser. Sometime, I forgot about the surcharge to add in. Strange as it may seem, if I took a longer route I would feel guilty about it.
    The Google Maps doesn’t seem reliable as it often give me the wrong routes.

  37. A certain taxi company is introducing a two hirer scheme and an incentive of $1500 to be given to the new hirer. Anybody keen?
    It seems taxi driver is in high demand, so step forward to grasp this opportunity.

  38. It past 2.00am and I am waiting in a queue for passenger in Lot 1. Hardly a soul in sight, I would while away the time playing online chess and listening to Hokkien oldies.
    Driving a taxi is no mean task. A lot of attention required in assessing road condition. Watching out for other drivers, keeping an eye on the speed limit, looking out for uncle Sam and staying alert at all time as my passengers lives are at stake.

  39. Life can be so exciting! I thought it was plain sailing as a taxi driver until so many things happen to me.
    On a quiet morning at 4.00am in front of Park Mall, I collided into another taxi. Both of us got out and checked that the damages was slight and nobody was hurt. I made a police report online and was told that it was not necessary as no property was damaged and nobody hurt.
    I decided to report to my company and was utterly shock that the repair cost was $1700 when I check earlier with a workshop that it would be no more than $300. On top of that my insurance excess is $1400 and I decided to give up driving and return the taxi but was charge another $700. I have to forfeit my deposit of $2000.
    The ‘good’ news was that I was awarded 24 demerit points when the other driver made a false report that he was hurt and was given 3 days MC. The police send me a letter to pay them a courtesy visit. A court date was given to me to appear for dangerous driving.
    Talk about how good life is to me, this is it! Dan is desperate, what can be done, the court date is February 3.
    I approach a good friend whom I have not met for more than 30 years, a former senior judge. He help me to draft an appeal and the charges was reduced from dangerous driving to inconsiderate driving.
    In my 35 years of driving I have maintain a clean record and was never charge in court. This lapse of judgement could be due to growing older and on a life of prescription.
    I asked for an adjournment and was given February 24 to reappear in court. I tried talking to the other driver to retract the false medical claim but to no avail. At the court I plead guilty for inconsiderate driving and was given $800 fine and 3 months suspension.
    Now I am grounded and looking for a job. I should asked around whether any of you enjoy a better life than me?
    End of episode 1, in episode 2 I was awarded another 5 demerit points and $200 fine. Life is good!
    Desperate Dan.

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