10 PDVL Step to Be Full/Part-Time Grab Driver with Car Rental
① Signing Up at Grab Centre
② Medical Checkup at SATA Health Screening Centre
③ Waiting for LTA Approval Letter to Come
④ Registering for PDVL Course
⑤ Attending PDVL Course
⑥ Passing PDVL Test
⑦ Selecting a Rental Car
⑧ Paying Car Rental Deposit
⑨ Collecting Your Rented Car
⑩ Activating Grab Driver’s Account and Mobile App
⑪ Applying HDB Season Parking Online
So you want to become a Private-Hire Driver and make it your full-time job or to earn extra cash after attending the Grab PDVL Course? Here are step-by-step procedures of what to expect in 3 months after applying for the PDVL course. Even though one goes through the PDVL test arrangement through Grab, it does not stop one from joining other similar companies like Gojek, Ryde and more as such companies sprout gradually in Singapore.
Before throwing a letter and kissing goodbye to your current job, be forewarned. Being a full-time Grab driver is not as lucrative as one thinks or reads in the newspaper!
The full-time driver with a rented car has to work long hours, typically an average of 10 hours for 6 to 7 days a week to consider himself as ‘earning a decent income’. Those reported figures of earning $5 to $6k per month are GROSS income. After deducting the cost of your car rental and fuel, you are basically left with peanuts.
The estimated time length to get a PDVL is approximately 3 months after the application. As more and more people go through the PDVL course, the waiting time will be shorter. If the negative factors and unreal perception of being a Private-Hire Driver do not daunt you, then read on…
11 Sep 2018, Tue
I went to Grab Registration Office at #01-143 Midview City, 28 Sin Ming Lane to apply for my PDVL course on a Tuesday afternoon after 3 pm. I took a queue number from the counter. The waiting time was not very long as there were not many people at that time.
After your number is called, a Grab staff will help you to apply for the PDVL course to LTA on our behalf. You should bring along the following documents for ease of registration:
If you do not have a photo, the Grab staff can take one for you on the spot. Make sure your photograph complies to LTA standard. That is your facial features must not be covered, especially the eyebrows.
LTA sent me an email one week later to say that my photo did not conform to the standard and asked me to resend it via the online portal.
IMPORTANT: Your SingPass is required to log in at the GRAB counter to register for the PVDL Course. Bring along the OneKey token if your mobile cannot receive the second login code. Without your SingPass, you cannot proceed with the PDVL course registration.
A general occupational health screening check is compulsory for Private-Hire drivers to be free from tuberculosis at any SATA centre. If you want to get a free health check sponsored by Grab, ask for the Medical Authorisation Form during the registration process.
Proceed to any SATA centre as soon as possible for the checkup. The medical screening result will take about 2 weeks and then sent directly to Grab and to LTA subsequently. However, you will not receive any information about your health status from SATA Centre.
After LTA received your medical screening result from Grab, I was told by the Grab staff that the estimated waiting time for the approval of the PDVL course application was 7 to 14 days. In summary, I would have to wait for 3 to 4 weeks in total before I would hear anything from LTA about the PDVL Course (which was untrue…). After receiving the PDVL Course Approval Letter from LTA, one could proceed to book the course.
The above information is what you need to know for the first visit. You may be tempted to ask more about the car promotions and rental prices since you are already there. You do not have to do it at this point in time. By the time, the car promotions will have expired after 1 to 2 months later. You may still not get your Grab PVDL course date yet.
Furthermore, the staffs of car rental companies have no interest in entertaining you if you have not passed your PDVL Test. All these pieces of information can wait until you pass the test later as too many details are often overwhelming on the first visit.
As with regards to GrabCar promotion, you can always call to ask about the current incentive instead of asking at the Grab Centre. There are usually many interested parties registering or enquiring at the Grab office. The environment is upbeat, but the Grab staffs are mostly very professional, polite and helpful after being there for a few times.
12 Sep 2018, Wed
I went to SATA Jurong the next day on Wednesday afternoon after 2 pm with the Medical Authorisation Form by Grab. I did not have to pay a single cent with that form. If you go to the checkup without that form, you have to pay from your own pocket. I was also told that if you decide to join another Private-Hire company later instead of Grab, which was the one sponsoring your medical checkup, you are free to do so.
Choose Grab as a sponsoring company for your medical checkup because after you begin driving with Grab and complete 100 rides within the first 3 weeks, you are entitled to a $100 incentive. Not a bad deal, right? $100 extra + free medical health screening.
Anyway, there were only a handful of people in SATA Jurong Centre. It took only 25 minutes to get all the health screening done including registration. I also did x-ray and eyesight check. Then, a female Chinese doctor, Dr Wong Lim checked my blood pressure and asked about my medical history. There was barely any waiting time from one point to another. Overall, the time taken for the procedure was faster than I had expected after reading all the negative reviews about medical check-up in SATA Centres. All the staffs and the doctor attending to me were very professional too.
After you have registered in Grab Centre and performed the medical checkup, you can relax and wait for the PDVL Course Approval Letter to come.
Before I went down to Grab Centre for the first time, I sent a WhatsApp to the number on Grab ExpressOne which promised to get a PDVL in 3 to 5 weeks to speed up my course application. However, the person on the other end would still ask you to go down to Grab Centre and registered nonetheless. Subsequently, they had removed the number a few weeks later, which implied that they are not able to fulfil this promise to get your PDVL within the stipulated time.
It was a pack of lies as a marketing strategy. With the number of applicants currently, you would never get your PDVL course date as promised. I applied for the course on 11 September 2018. Guess what? I had to call LTA three times and gave them sob-sob stories so they could speed up my application as I had waited for more than 3 weeks, and the letter still had not arrived.
When you call up LTA to enquire, they will always verify that first, you had paid for your previous Medisave contribution (if any) and there should be no outstanding amount owed to CPF. Without a clean record will impede the procedure.
13 Nov 2018, Tue
After begging them to put me on the priority list, the staffs over the line also agreed that I had waited too long for the PDVL Approval Letter to come. I finally received the letter of approval on the 13 November 2018, two months after my PDVL Course Registration.
I had also asked one friend who applied for a Taxi Vocational Driving License (TDVL) in early 2018 about the waiting time. It also took him 3 months to get his PDVL license.
My classmates in PDVL Course told me that they had also waited 2 months for the Approval Letter to come. Therefore, I knew 2 months of waiting time was the norm. It also has to depend on the number of applicants for the PDVL Course during the time of application.
These are the following items that you need to bring with you when registering for a PDVL Course at Grab Centre:-
If you are not using your SkillsFuture Credit, then you have to pay $155.15 in cash. There are also ATM in Midview City where you can draw money too. SkillsFuture Credit will be deducted a few days before your course starts. The amount will be reimbursed to Singapore Taxi Academy (STA) later.
Here is a breakdown of what you are paying for $155.15.
17 Nov 2018, Sat
I went to Grab Centre #01-11 to book a PDVL Course on 17 November at 2 pm. Before going there, I discovered that my ATM card had expired. I panicked and called Grab to ask if an ATM card was needed. The man said no as I only had to pay $26.75 in cash.
I had the amount with me, so I proceeded to Grab. There were 3 people ahead of me, but the waiting time was almost one hour! When it was my turn, I was given a PDVL Course date on 3 December 2018, and the PDVL Test on 10 December 2018.
The lady helped me with SkillsFuture Credit claim on the spot. Suddenly, the damn OneKey token was not working as well not to my knowledge! She said I could also pay $155 in cash if I chose not to claim from SkillsFuture Credit, but my ATM card was not working too. How lucky could I get to have two things failed on me on the same day? I had to go back in the next few days as it was just not my day.
22 Nov 2018, Thu
I went to Grab the following week on 22 November 2018 and arrived there after 4.30 pm. There was no one there this time, so I didn’t have to queue. This time, the man gave me the earliest course date on 12 December 2018 and the test date on 19 December! Wow! The PDVL course was filled up pretty fast.
Just 5 days apart and the PDVL Course date was scheduled one week later from the original 3 December 2018 given to me on the first visit. By default, the PDVL test date will be 7 days after the PDVL Course unless you want to book a different test date during the course registration.
12 Dec 2018, Wed
The full-day PDVL Course takes place in Singapore Taxi Academy (STA) @ Kim Yan Road on the 4th floor from 9 am to 6 pm. There will be at least 2 classes on the 4th floor. One is for PDVL, and the other is the TDVL (Taxi Driver’s Vocational License). Check your name against the board outside the classroom, so you do not enter into the wrong class. The class size is a maximum of 25 participants.
One advice is that if you decide to enrol in the PDVL Course, select a week where you can dedicate your time to study as the test is only one week away. There are so many chapters to revise that you will feel that one week is never enough. Put your energy and time for that one week as you just need to take the dreadful exam for only one time in your life. After that, you will go through a refresher course once every 6 years with no more test.
The instructor was very strict with the dress code. Whether you are a man or a woman, all participants must wear a collared shirt, polo-tee or a collared jacket. There were a few jokers in the class who did not adhere to the dress code. Hence, the instructor asked them to get their collared jacket from their vehicle. Those who could not find one were asked to seek advice from the admin staffs. Therefore, make sure you wear a collared top with long pants and covered shoes to avoid all these unnecessary inconveniences.
You will receive a box with 1 Street Directory, 1 thick book on Driving in Singapore, 6 sets of course notes (1.1 to 1.2, 2.1 to 2.4) and 2 mock papers (Paper 1 and Paper 2). Bring a haversack big enough to carry these materials.
Participants who take PDVL Course do not need to study for the 2.2 paper as it is for the TDVL Course. The thick book on Singapore Driving and the 5 sets of course notes is enough to keep you busy for one week.
I’m pretty convinced that you will not be able to finish reading and memorising everything from the notes and book when you look at the amount of information to digest. Quite intimidating, I would say.
Some of my classmates and I did not think that our instructor did a brilliant job to explain the essential points of the course. He kept on emphasising how difficult it was to pass and that many of us might not be able to make it.
On the other hand, he always deviated from the topics and joked around with his personal taxi driving experience in a crude manner, which was of no help to our PDVL course. His elaboration was mostly on taxi driving and not on the private-hire service experience.
When he made comparisons between private-hire and taxi services, he would always put the private-hire service on a more disadvantageous position, which made me think twice why I was there in the first place. It might be better off to take a TDVL Course instead.
Mostly, he beat about the bush and seldom referred to the course notes to enhance clarifications. It was a waste of time with this instructor and my classmates thought likewise. It has to depend on luck what kind of instructor you get. In the end, no matter who the instructor is, you can study by yourself without depending on their tips.
19 Dec 2018, Wed
The 8-hour course from 9 am to 6 pm is to prepare you for two PDVL Test paper on:-
✓ Paper 1: Service Quality, Health & Safety (50 MCQ)
✓ Paper 2: Private Hire Care Rules & Regulations (50 MCQ)
You have to score 40/50 (Paper 1), and 43/50 (Paper 2) to pass both PDVL tests. You have an hour to complete for each test on an iPad. From what I saw, around 70% of the students could finish the PDVL test in half an hour. I finished each test in 12 minutes and scored 49/50 (Paper 1) and 48/50 (Paper 2).
The PDVL tests were not that difficult. They were even easier than the questions on the mock tests and the online TP Test. If you can pass the online and mock tests during practice, there is no reason why you cannot succeed in the actual PDVL Tests. Many of the questions are common sense emphasising on Customer Service topic and your ‘right attitude’ towards the service industry.
I have an intuition that those questions had been revised to a simpler version. According to our instructor, only a handful of students could pass both papers. On the contrary, from what I saw, almost all my classmates passed both papers. Those that failed usually have a problem understanding English.
You can attempt your PDVL test questions online from TP Tests. Each paper consists of a few sets of exercises:
After I had attempted all the MCQ from each section, I would proceed on to take the test without referring to the notes. My final results for both online tests were 100% pass, which was encouraging. I took around 6 to 8 hours in total to complete 348 questions and 2 tests. The duration included some note revision in-between if I got any wrong answer.
I feel the attempt on TP Test questions is ultra important if you seriously want to pass. I gave this link to all my classmates in our Whatsapp group. Most of them told me it was useful and had tried their best to do as many questions as possible. Perhaps, our attempts online explained why most of us passed our PDVL Tests with flying colours as we were able to cope with the actual tests easily and with speed.
Tip: Do the test 2 days in advance so you can brush up your memory if you know where is your weak area since you cant’s possibly finish reading + memorising all the notes. That will be crazy!
After attempting the TP Test questions, you can also do the test on Taxi Singapore to ascertain your standard if you have the time. The Taxi Singapore tests have more or less similar questions like the TP Test. This step is just to reinforce your knowledge and confirm the possibility of passing the test without searching for an answer in the course notes.
Tip: For the best result, attempt the Singapore Taxi Test a few hours or a day later after you have completed the TP Test. This method is to cross-check your memory retention of what you have studied for the past few days!
During the exercises, if you get any questions answered wrongly, go through your notes to find the correct answers and try to memorise it until you get them right the next time. They will come out again. The advantage of spending time in these exercises is that after you are familiar with them, you can do the PDVL Test at STA in 15 minutes with confidence. Out of those that you have attempted during the exercises, you may encounter around 10% of the same questions.
The two websites below have phrased out some actual PDVL test questions, particularly useful for referencing. The first one was the most helpful. I had referred to them several times during my revision to see if I could answer those questions after studying my notes.
Important: You do not have to memorise anything related to healthy lifestyles subjects such as BMI, cholesterol level … as these health topics have been scraped off from the PDVL Test recently. My instructor told us about it but being a bit kiasu, I still went ahead to memorise some of it. Indeed, none of these questions came out. A tremendous relief as you have fewer topics to study now.
No, you still have to read and memorise most of it, especially Paper 2.4 notes focusing on traffic offences and demerit points. If you do not study Paper 2.4 with effort, you will not be able to pass the PDVL test because it will take up more than 7 questions. The passing mark is 43/50 for Paper 2.
I spent a long time studying the road signs and penalty points of a Class 3 driver, which is a broad subject. However, none of them came out. There are a total of 600 to 700 questions inside the pool of the PDVL Test system. You will not know which are the random ones that will come out. Even when the instructor gave hints on the possible MCQ that may surface during the tests, none of them came out either.
If you have a test at 9 am (paper 1) and 10 am (Paper 2), and fail one or both PDVL Tests on that day, the good news is that you can rebook and take the test on the same day at 2 pm. One test costs $10.00, and the administrative fee is $5.00. I have read that it is better to rebook the test after attempting Paper 2. If you need to rebook two papers, then you only have to pay for one administration fee.
You can collect a provisional PDVL in a paper form at the administration office on the same level, 4th floor while waiting for your PDVL to come in the next few months. At that time, staffs were issuing Esso petrol cards for Private-Hire Car (PHC) drivers which entitled us to get a 20% discount when we pumped petrol. At this stage, you are also a licensed Private-Hire driver and ready to start driving anytime.
19 Dec 2018, Wed
After I passed my PDVL Test, I proceeded on the same day to Grab Centre at Sin Ming Drive with three more classmates. I wanted to find out as many rental car rates with GrabCar Rental and their fleet partners as possible.
If you intend to be a hardcore PHC driver driving an average of 10 hours on the road daily, I would recommend you to get a Hybrid car instead. Such a vehicle can give you 22km/litres according to the specification. The non-hybrid car would probably get you an average of 12km/litres. I was driving a Honda Grace Hybrid at the point of writing this blog.
A 35-litres full tank of petrol from Esso allowed my vehicle to run not less than 800 km, which is 805km/35L = 23km/litre to be exact. I have clocked my mileage each time I pumped petrol, so I know the published figure is accurate to its specification. Also, I am generally a light tapper on the car accelerator, which helps to cut down all my car petrol.
I decided to rent from Lion City Rentals (LCR) after enquiring from GrabCar Rental and its fleet partners. LCR had the lowest cost of Hybrid in town at $62.20 with a 3-month contract at that time of rental. Moreover, the car was new and manufactured in the year 2016 or 2017. Mine was in March 2017.
I have a friend who rents from LCR. He will get a $500 referral fee, and I will get $100. I managed to get him to split at 50% of the total sum. That means each of us would get $300 each. Not a bad deal! Moreover, Lion City Rentals will give a 1-week free rental in the last week of the contract. My contract was only 3 months until April 2019, as I had to go back to Belgium.
GrabCar runs seasonal promotion for a few months to offer ‘Joining and Completion Bonus’ to market their car rental. Sometimes the incentive is high and sometimes it is low. When I enquired in September 2018, the total bonus was $2,700 after completing a 6-month contract. In December 2018, when I enquired again, the completion of the 6-month incentive dropped to $1,000, limited to only Toyota Prius and Mazda 3 car models.
One of the biggest turnoffs, according to what I gathered from Facebook forums was the return of GrabCar. The check on the vehicle surface was extremely stringent. GrabCar Rental will find ways to penalise you from your $500 deposit. It is too easy to get small scratches on the vehicle while on the road caused by small stones and debris. People were complaining online that Grab even penalised them for those tiny holes!
On the other hand, if you want to get Grab incentive, you have to get your vehicle either from GrabCar or its fleet partners to be eligible. As a newbie, the hope of earning more money is imperative. After driving for a while, I realised I was not hitting the target of minimum 100 trips per week to get an additional $100 because I chose to drive shorter hours, about 6 to 7 hours a night on average. (Yes, I was a night driver.)
I also realised I did not care about the incentive at all as you have to put up with a lot of other nonsenses. One of them was GrabShare that I detested the most. On a side note, most seasoned drivers hated GrabShare trips because the fares were ridiculously low and the travelling distances were relatively longer compared to Just Grab.
If I have a choice next time, I would forego Grab incentives and focus on getting a cheaper vehicle from a car rental company who is not a fleet partner, even if it means that the car is non-hybrid to lower down my operating cost. In conclusion, the car rental company to go for also depends on the ongoing promotion at the point of time.
Most car rental companies only provide third-party insurance to commercial vehicles. In the worst scenario, if you hit onto someone’s car and at fault, you will pay the excess upfront of both vehicles $2,140 + $2,200 = $4,340. Ouch! That’s a lot of money to pay for a minor car accident! The excess amount provided was what I had gathered after enquiring from a few car rental companies in Grab Centre. You have to check yours from your car rental company.
To bring the excess lower, you can purchase additional insurance from CHUBB, paying $100+ per month to reduce the excess down to $1k+. CHUBB claims to be the only insurance company offering such insurance package to commercial vehicles at the moment.
After you know the excess amount of your preferred vehicle, you can ask CHUBB to give you a quotation. The company has various tiers of protection level depending on how much you are willing to spend each month. GrabCar Rental also offers a similar type of Auto Excess insurance to bring down the excess if you are renting from GrabCar.
2 Jan 2019, Wed
The car deposit for many companies that I had enquired was $500. After paying the deposit, you can collect the vehicle the next day which was a common practice. The first day of rental which is also the collection date is usually free of charge. The policy of many car rental companies is drive first, then pay the following week. At least for Lion City Rentals, it is done this way. For some other private car rental companies, you can get an even lower daily rate if you pay monthly rather than weekly.
4 Jan 2019, Wed
The following day after you made a deposit, you can go to the designated place to collect your vehicle. I wanted to collect mine two days later. On that day, run a physical inspection on your rented vehicle together with the person who hands over the car to you.
Take photographs or video of physical defects such as paint peeling, dents, holes so that when you return it later, no one can accuse you of causing them. Ask questions on operating the vehicle if you have doubts. Try to collect your car in the morning so that you can proceed to Grab Centre immediately to activate the Grab Driver App.
4 Jan 2019, Wed
Here comes the tricky part. You can set up a Grab Driver’s Account in Grab Centre way before this step when you have submitted a copy of your bank account. However, you cannot activate the account until you have rented a vehicle and present:
Simply said, you have to submit all the documents given by the car rental company to Grab. I did everything on the same day after collecting my car in the morning. For my printed bank statement, I have blanked out the amount before printing it out for privacy reason. The Grab Customer Service officer merely looked at the bank account number for verification, and they did not even keep that copy. Hence, it was not an issue to remove away the figures.
After verifying the vehicle detail, the staff will then take your photo for the Grab Driver’s App. I was told that I could change my profile picture later, but that was not true. So make sure to get yourself a presentable photo as this will be the one shown to your potential passengers when they make a booking.
This step was the most frustrating process of all which was a nightmare and made me really mad. To activate the Grab Driver’s App, one has to FIRST go through the long and windy training session of watching 12 modules of videos, follow by short tests after each round. The whole procedure will take a minimum of 1 hour. If you did not pay attention to any of the videos and cannot pass the short tests at the end of every session, you have to repeat watching the video again. Yawn…
What annoyed me was that I got 100% pass for the first few modules. Later, there seemed to be some technical glitch, and the video appeared to be repeating themselves after some time. The worst thing was that the repetition did not come immediately as the old ones were inserted after a few sessions.
I wasn’t aware of it then as I was feeling fatigued and bored after watching all these uninteresting videos on my mobile phone. I only realised that something was wrong with the system when one classmate who took the training at the same time finished it in 30 – 45 mins earlier than me.
There was another woman who began the training 30 minutes later than us and could leave earlier than me. Something was amiss. I took a total of 2 hours to complete the so-called training at 6 pm. By this time, the staffs were ready to go back home. It was even too late to ask any more questions.
The Grab training system was poorly organised as it combined the Driver App with Customer Service training. I would think that the self-training should not take up more than 1 hour as the Driver’s App was so easy to use. There were not many features anyway.
Unfortunately, one has to pass all the mini-tests to get a link on the mobile to activate and download the Driver’s App later. Once you get the Grab Driver’s app on your mobile, you can start your Grab journey by picking up customers from Midview city on that day!
Here is a bonus – the 11th step for people residing in HDB flats. You can apply your new season parking online via SingPass without submission of any vehicle log card later. You will need the vehicle IU number though.
The moment you make payment online, you will get your season parking on that day. Fast right?
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