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Higher taxi subsidies for more people with disabilities

SINGAPORE — From Aug 1, more people with disabilities travelling to school and work will be able to claim Grab or Uber fares from the Government’s Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS).

Beneficiary of Taxi Subsidy Scheme Lim Eng Whatt boards a private hire car on July 27, 2017. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY

Beneficiary of Taxi Subsidy Scheme Lim Eng Whatt boards a private hire car on July 27, 2017. Photo: Jason Quah/TODAY

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SINGAPORE — From Aug 1, more people with disabilities travelling to school and work will be able to claim Grab or Uber fares from the Government’s Taxi Subsidy Scheme (TSS).

They will also get up to 35 per cent more in overall taxi subsidies, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said on Thursday (July 27).

The scheme will be expanded from households with a monthly per capita income of up to S$1,800, to those with up to S$2,600. The newly included individuals will be eligible for a 30 per cent subsidy.

Meanwhile, Singaporeans in the highest subsidy tier (those with a monthly per capita household income of S$700 and below) will receive 80 per cent in subsidies, instead of 50 per cent currently.

Those with a monthly per capita household income between S$701 and S$1,100 will get a 75 per cent subsidy, up from 40 per cent — the highest increase among the revised rates.

The scheme will also be extended to those attending employment-related training supported by SG Enable, an agency dedicated to the training and employment of persons with disabilities.

These enhancements, in line with recommendations in the Third Enabling Masterplan to make transportation for persons with disabilities more accessible, are estimated to cost the Government an additional S$2.5 million over the next five years, the MSF said. 

The masterplan is a roadmap to build a more inclusive society, supporting persons with disabilities. 

At present, 80 individuals are on the TSS, which now costs the Government S$200,000 a year. The number of beneficiaries could go up to 200 to 300 by 2021, said the ministry.

Introduced on Oct 1, 2014, the scheme helps persons with permanent disabilities who are medically certified as unable to take public transport and are totally dependent on taxis.

To qualify, they must be a Singaporean or permanent resident working adult or student who does not own any vehicle or concurrently receive transport subsidies from non-profit organisations. 

One such beneficiary is Mr Lim Eng Whatt, 67, who spends about half his S$1,200 monthly salary on taxi fares. He has been medically certified as being unable to travel on public transport following a motorcycle accident in his 40s, where he hurt his spine. 

Instead of his 20 per cent monthly subsidy (about $120), the customer service agent at an F&B joint will now qualify for a 50 per cent subsidy (about S$300) off his fares, saving him about S$180 in transport expenses a month.

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