Going up: Taxi fares!

Singapore December 4th, 2007

So, it’s confirmed. Taxi fares are set to raise to a flag-down rate of S$2.80, up 30 cents from S$2.50.  I think it’s rather silly – the way that things are handled. It was reported that the taxi drivers wanted it, their associations asked for it, so all that’s left is for the companies to do it, however, the forgot that while the companies can raise the flag-down rates, they can conveniently raise the daily rental from the drivers.

I find it kind of amusing. The passengers are baring the brunt of the entire thing, while the taxi companies are happily smiling all the way to the banks. In the eyes of the drivers, the companies are the good guys while the passengers are the bad ones. After all, who are the ones who allow them to make a living? The companies; and who are the ones that complains about the? The passengers.

So?

So, the passengers should be punished – but of course, this is a deviation from their motive. Their (the drivers) real motive is just to make a decent living – after all, shouldn’t the passengers bare the brunt of EVERY that raises? The taxi driver’s income should not be affected!

Haha… damn. Why doesn’t my stipend go up with the cost of living? Sometimes, looking at how they argue really makes my toes laugh. No, I am really empathise with them, but don’t they realise that the real person who is making all the money at the end of the day is the man behind the taxi company?

Seriously, this makes my day. I’m going to be so much happier taking the bus now.

More on this later. Gonna be late and no cabs for me.

TAXI drivers want it and their associations have asked for it, so all that remains is for the biggest taxi operator ComfortDelGro to go ahead and do it – raise taxi fares that is.

All the signs point to it happening, and soon. A year after the last increase, which saw the flag-down rate go up by 10 cents to at least $2.50 and peak period surcharge double to $2, sources say a bigger jump is imminent.

The flag-down fare is expected to rise by 30 cents, bringing the minimum starting fare to $2.80.

Newer taxis such as the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Magentis charge 20 cents more, so their flag-down rate should hit $3, The Straits Times understands.

Distance and time-based rates are also expected to change. Currently, the meter advances by 10 cents every 210m or every 25 seconds of waiting. After 10km, it jumps 10 cents every 175m.

Industry observers expect leading operator ComfortDelGro to make the first move this month, but the company has remained mum about its plans.

‘Fare adjustment is a commercially sensitive topic, so we cannot comment on it,’ ComfortDelGro spokesman Tammy Tan said.

For the past three weeks or so, the company – which has a fleet of 15,000 taxis – has been sending its cabs to have their meters adjusted.

Ms Tan said this was mainly to update the meters for next year’s public holiday slots. There is a $1 surcharge for public holidays.

But The Straits Times understands the tweaks – taking around 20 minutes per cab – also include adding a chip to allow the metered fare structure to be adjusted wirelessly.

Taxi drivers have been calling for a fare hike for several weeks now, citing the higher cost of fuel and the two percentage point rise in the goods and services tax, which has raised their rental rate by an average of $50 a month.

Diesel at the pumps, after a discount, has risen by around 20 per cent since the last cab fare increase in July last year, raising fuel cost per cab by around $300 each month.

Member of Parliament Seng Han Thong, an adviser to the taxi operators’ associations, said taxi fares should be pegged to the cost cabbies bear. He told The Straits Times two weeks ago that the taxi operators’ associations have been lobbying for a fare rise.

‘Although taxi drivers are always worried about losing business if fares go up too high…they still hope there would be a fare increase,’ Mr Seng said.

Some quarters have called for fares to rise substantially to manage demand, so that commuters who need a cab will find it easier to get one.

Cabby Chew Lian Sheng, 37, said that is the ‘only way to manage demand’, since taxi companies are unable to put more taxis on the road because there are not enough drivers around.

Mr Chew said the flag-down fare should be between $7 and $10. ‘There’d be a public outcry. But cabbies can earn a living with fewer trips.’

Mr Chew is also of the view that surcharges must be removed or at least, simplified, as they ‘create an artificial market’.

Cabby Manjeet Singh, 62, said the flag-down fare should be $6 or $7. ‘It’s pathetic now,’ he said. ‘We should also abolish the surcharges – they are very confusing.’

Transport researcher and National University of Singapore lecturer Lee Der-Horng said simply raising fares would not solve all taxi woes. He said a ‘package solution’ was needed.

This includes having Electronic Road Pricing subsidies to encourage cabbies to go into the Central Business District; more designated taxi stands in the city centre; and simplifying surcharges.

Associate Professor Lee also suggested having ‘a centralised call booking system…This way, passengers will just need to dial one number to get access to the pool of taxis from all taxi companies’,

He said doing away with all surcharges may not be the answer. For instance, how can cabbies be encouraged to ply the ‘graveyard shift’ otherwise?

Nevertheless, he reckons the imbalance between demand and supply ‘cannot be fully resolved’.

christan@sph.com.sg

tracysua@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 3rd December 2007



Reader's Comments

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: