Everything you need to know about being a private hire car driver.
Being a private hire car driver might not be everyone's ideal profession, but it sure has some perks.
Steven Ng, 28, quit his full-time job as an engineer to be a private hire car driver. We met up with him to learn what it is like as a career.
Who: Steven Ng, 28
Occupation: Uber driver
Studied: Higher Nitec in Info-Comm Technology at ITE College East
Tell us more about yourself.
After graduating from Higher Nitec in 2008, I worked as a full-time desktop support engineer at Hewlett Packett before joining Fuji Xerox as an on-site engineer in 2014. I realised that though the income was stable, I was looking for a job that allowed me to connect more with people.
How did you become an Uber driver?
I tried Uber as a rider in early 2014 and was very interested in the service. Months later, I became a part-time driver and realised it was an enjoyable and flexible job. The incentives were attractive and I made new friends with every ride.
A year later, my friend and I started a print works business together. I left my full-time job at Fuji Xerox to run the business while driving Uber at the same time.
Steven works as an Uber driver while he manages his business.
Describe a typical day at work.
The calls come in non-stop, one ride after another. The demand for drivers to ferry passengers is always there. The best part is the app does most of the job. I only have to drive.
What are some challenges you face on the job?
Drunk people. I once picked up a few and they reeked heavily of alcohol. The moment I drove off, the guy beside me started kicking and stomping everywhere. I was so sure he was going to puke when his friends (fortunately) told me to drop them off by the side to catch supper instead. At that moment, I was so thankful and have never felt more relieved.
At night, Clarke Quay becomes a hotspot for passengers, and hence, drivers.
What is one memorable experience you've had as an Uber driver?
I yawned a few times in a ride and my rider saw. Instead of giving me a low rating, she passed me her festive latte from Starbucks. She told me that she respected drivers for taking on this noble profession as it requires loads of patience, time and energy. Genuine connections like these make this job so much more fulfilling.
How has the industry changed?
In 2014, the incentives were high because there were fewer drivers. I remember driving six to eight hours daily could fetch me about $7,000 a month. Now, with more drivers on the road, the incentives are lower and we earn less. Sometimes, I earn $2,000 a month.
What advice would you give to youths considering a similar career?
If it is night-time and you are looking to earn some quick cash, wait till 3am for the sober crowd. Start a little earlier and you might end up with drunk riders (sent home by their friends) in your precious car.
But if you start driving at 3am and happen to pick up drunk riders anyway…best of luck!
Education requirements: At least one year of driving experience with a Taxi Driver's Vocational Licence, or two years of driving experience with a Private Driving Vocational Licence
Qualities: Patient, adaptable and friendly
Salary range: Depends on the time spent driving – four to six hours of driving daily can fetch about $1,050 to $2,800 monthly
Working hours: Flexible; depends on the driver.
Career prospects/advancements/specialisations: Entrepreneurs, Private chauffeur, Specialist drivers (Ambulance, Forklifts, Firetrucks)
TEASER AND BANNER PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/WINSTON TAY