There is a new ruling from March 2008 onwards that everyone who wants to hail a cab would have to do it from a taxi stand, i.e. the taxies are not supposed to pick up passengers along the road because it is deemed hazardous to do so. Even if you decide to call for one, you’d have to get on the taxi from a taxi stand. This apparently applies to taking cabs in the city, including places like Shenton Way, Orchard Road, Suntec City – basically anywhere that you can define as “town”; yes, even Clarke Quay.

This is meant to force everyone to move to the nearest taxi stand to hail their cabs – however, how many taxis would actually go to a taxi stand is still an unknown. If you look at the taxi stand at Ngee Ann City, it’s really pathetic because not only are there no cabs, the queue is horrendously long.

This brings one question in mind though – if taxis are not allowed to pick up passengers from the roads, then are passengers allowed to alight from the roads? Or can they only alight at the nearest taxi stand? Hmm…

Passenger (P): Uncle ah, let me alight at the coffee shop behind the white house

Taxi Driver (T): Huh? Cannot lah… new gahmen ruling says cannot drop you along the road; must go to the nearest taxi stand

P: Huh? Then drop where?

T: *ponders* Er… International Plaza lah… very near one. Like walking from Esplanade to Carrefour.

P: Wah uncle, that one very far leh… just drop me at the kopi tiam lah… no one will catch one

T: Cannot cannot! Nowadays every where also got camera. That day drive in the KPE already kenne 3 points and don’t know how many dollars liao. You want me to drop you at the kopi tiam ah? You might as well kill uncle first.

P: Uncle, you like that say, you win liao lor!

T: Uncle never win, only the gahmen win.

Of course in reality, the taxi driver may really let you alight at the coffee shop at the White House (serious, there’s such a place in Singapore), but whether his taxi number plate will get recorded from J-eyes is a different story. =P

FROM March next year, commuters will need to find a taxi stand if they want a cab in the Central Business District.

This includes areas like Orchard Road, Shenton Way, Raffles Place and Suntec City.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday announced the new rule, alongside stiffer new penalties for taxi drivers who do not stop for passengers, who tout or who overcharge. Misbehaving cabbies can lose their licence immediately in serious cases.

The ruling about taxi stands is meant to improve road safety, said the LTA.

With the introduction of more bus lanes within the city, it said, taxis are finding it harder to pick up passengers hailing them from the roadside. Plus, those who do stop in time for passengers may swerve in indiscriminately or suddenly, making it dangerous and disruptive to traffic flow.

So, instead of sticking their arms out and flagging a taxi from the kerbside, commuters will have to get one from a taxi stand – and even if you book one, it must pick you up at a stand.

The only exception is if residents within the city get taxis to pick them up within their private driveways.

The LTA will build 15 more taxi stands by the end of next month, bringing the total number to 95 in the city area.

Taxi stands will always be within a five-minute walk of any building in the CBD, LTA assured commuters yesterday.

Both taxi drivers and commuters seemed to welcome the new rule yesterday: Mr Adi Negara, 48, a taxi driver for the past 11 years, explained how stopping in the CBD can be a dangerous game.

‘There are many bus lanes and it is difficult to stop, and if we do, we have to swerve through lanes.

‘The taxi stands will help because commuters will know where to wait and we will know where to go.’

While commuters The Straits Times spoke to yesterday generally agreed that it would be safer, a bigger worry was if the taxis would come at all – whether at a stand or otherwise.

Mr Jeffrey Chan, 31, a wealth-management consultant who works in a building on Cecil Street, said that, already, most of his time at the taxi stand is spent watching the cabbies – with their ‘On call’ signs lit up – zip by.

He reckons seven out of 10 won’t stop. Which already equates to 30-minute waits every night for his taxi home.

His sentiment was echoed by people polled last night.

It is more about increasing the supply of cabs during the rush hour to meet demand, say commuters.

Or upping the flag-down rate for cabs so more taxi drivers will want to stop at the stands, say drivers.

‘If you charge passengers a one-time surcharge to take a taxi from the city, more cabs – after dropping passengers off in the suburbs – will be more willing to go back to the city,’ said cabby Dicky Ong, 53.

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 13th November 2007



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