BEING a cab driver is no longer the "easier option", National Taxi Association adviser Ang Hin Kee said yesterday.
Today's cabbies have to do more than simply get a licence and know the roads, he said at the union's first National Day Observance Ceremony.
They are also expected to upgrade their skills and "expand their business".
As well as driving, cabbies need to do their sums, market themselves and identify their target clientele, added Mr Ang.
This will help them to meet commuters' increasing expectations and Government standards. Mr Ang said the association will help drivers to improve the taxi industry.
For example, it has submitted 10 recommendations to the Land Transport Authority (LTA).
These include relooking the availability standards that require 70 per cent of each operator's fleet to clock at least 250km a day whether or not there are any passengers to pick up. Another suggestion involves introducing a mediation system to resolve drivers' disputes. So far, Mr Ang has not heard back from the LTA.
The union aims to improve cabbies' health and well-being by running workshops to help them stop smoking, and organising sports events to keep them fit. Labour chief Lim Swee Say was the guest of honour at yesterday's event to mark the Republic's 48th birthday.
He gave out the first of 20,000 mini Singapore flags to taxi drivers at the Kallang Leisure Park.
They will be flown on cabs during the month-long National Day festivities.
Also present were NTUC president Diana Chia, about 300 cabbies and representatives from the taxi companies, the labour movement and the LTA.
Mr Henry Tay, 43, who started driving a limousine cab three years ago, said he had learnt Japanese in order to target executives and well-heeled holidaymakers. "Since Singapore wants to attract more tourists, we must also adapt and learn new things to ensure we provide the best possible service to help customers."