Since I started driving, I hardly ever take the cab to anywhere. Yesterday was my first trip in a cab (for a few years already) and I took the chance to question the driver on things I've been wondering about.
First of all, I asked about the looong queue for gas at Petronas that I always see. According to the driver, the gas is 60-70% cheaper as compared to petrol. A cab's full tank will take about RM50 worth, but gas will only cost about RM18. However, a cab's full tank can last for an entire day (520km) but you cannot fill up the gas to maximum capacity of the tank due to danger of expansion of the tank (from the gas heating up). So, it's a 4-time gas fill-up per day at RM4-5 per fill up, that lasts 130km.
Questioning him on whether it's a waste of time lining up. Seems that it's usually about a half-hour waiting in line for gas, to which he said at least it gives him some rest. Ookayy then, two hours per day on lining up is okay for him. But really, the save in fuel cost is what made him keep to gas.
I also inquired about the 'rental' of taxis. All taxi drivers RENT the taxis from taxi company on a daily basis. Some companies allow for 'rent and buy' which means, they will pay rental for the taxi and in five years, the taxi will be theirs. The problem is, while the vehicle will belong to them, they cannot use it as a taxi. It will be converted to a normal car, and if they still want to be taxi drivers, they will need to rent another taxi.
"Rent and buy", though it sounds good, is really not good at all. It's about RM44 per day, but maintenance of vehicle is up to the driver (ie tyre change, engine check) and they will need to pay the rent every single day of the year. This means that if they take leave for Hari Raya for 10 days, they need to pay RM440 in that 10 days.
"Pure Rental" is aboutRM65 per day, and they only pay on days they use the taxi. Maintenance is borne by the company. The driver I was with yesterday believe that pure rental is more cost saving, and I think so too.
So, a taxi driver starts the day on a full gas (not full lah, but maximum gas capacity) and rental of RM65. If the driver starts at 8am, he would probably break-even (on the rental) within 4-6 hours, depending on the distance and traffic. In traffic, the money move slowly, but it moves! Just to tell you all that there is cost incurred for 'time' and not only distance, and I believe this is fair to the taxi drivers, though it may not seem fair for the passengers.
Okay, let's say he gets break-even at 3pm (additional hour is due to waiting for gas twice). Then he'll need to break even his gas of RM18 which can be done in 1-2 hours. So as bad as it goat worst, a taxi driver will start earning at 5pm! That's like... err... you work from 8am to 5pm only to break-even, and then the next four hours, if they're lucky they will earn RM40 to bring home. According to this taxi driver, he generally break-even at 1pm, and by 2pm he will purely drive to earn money. At the end of the day at 9pm, he would take home anywhere between RM30 (bad day) to RM120 (good day). Putting that into average calculation, he can take home RM75 daily, which brings to RM1,500 per month working from 8am to 9pm.
Life of a taxi driver.