EAVESDROPPING is generally frowned upon, but overhearing his passenger's phone conversation won taxi driver Eddie Soh a kindness award.

The 55-year-old cabby picked up Mr David Christodoulou at his home in Siglap in Febraury 2009 and was driving him to town to meet a university buddy who he had not seen for 15 years.

Over the phone, Mr Christodoulou promised his old friend a treat. But when he got to his destination, he realised he had forgotten his wallet and had no money to pay his fare, let alone buy his friend a meal.

'I was expecting a tongue-lashing from Eddie, but he gave me $100 instead, saying I couldn't go meet my friend with no money,' the 39-year-old operations manager said.

And even though the money was almost all his day's earnings, Mr Soh did not hesitate to help. 'I knew from my experience his was a genuine case of forgetting his wallet,' he said.

For his kind deed, Mr Soh was among a record 267 public transport frontline staff to receive the National Courtesy Award Transport Gold on Tuesday - the largest number in the award's 11-year history.

He was also one of three 'Kindness Champion' award winners, a new category introduced this year where each of the three key service providers - ComfortDelGro Group, SMRT Trains Ltd and Transit Link Pte Ltd - nominate their most outstanding candidate.

Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport Teo Ser Luck, who was guest of honour for the event at the Singapore Conference Hall, noted that commuters are increasingly seeking a higher level of quality customer service.
But for Mr Christodoulou, who was at the event to hand Mr Soh some gifts and two hand-drawn cards by his daughters, public transport here is already world-class.

'I always say that Singapore taxi drivers are the best in the world. Every time I tell this story, no one can believe what amazing kindness I was shown,' he said.

Cabby is 'kindness champ'