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

  1. xizor2000 | December 4th, 2007 at 7:59 am

    Just do away with the freaking surcharges.

    It is not hard for these cabbies to make a living. Not hard at all when they can take cover and wait for calls, deliberately ignore people trying to flag one down frantically. The testimony that people are even sweating away in the taxi stand for half an hour, when in Shanghai, half an hour would have cleared all the people in a train from Hangzhou to Shanghai in the Shanghai train station is evidence of the dismal standards of the Singapore cab system.

  2. GeekyCoder | December 4th, 2007 at 9:14 am

    It clearly look like when citizen has no power and human right, it simply get trampled all over by the establishment. It’s good that you expose such ridiculous solution by the GLC. No wonder I find Singaporean, including me, getting pathetic each day. I

  3. DK | December 4th, 2007 at 9:53 am

    Are they sure the taxi drivers are asking for an increase in fare and not a decrease in rental?

  4. Daily SG: 4 Dec 2007 « The Singapore Daily | December 4th, 2007 at 11:08 am

    […] Trains & Automobiles – Simply Jean: Going up: Taxi fares! – The Void Deck: Rocketing Petrol Prices and the “Great” High Octane Petrol – Singapore […]

  5. david | December 4th, 2007 at 7:38 pm

    DK,
    “Are they sure the taxi drivers are asking for an increase in fare and not a decrease in rental?”

    I’m sure the taxi drivers ask for increase because the management tell them there is no such thing as decrease the rent so only thing to do is to increase the fare. Therefore, the gov are happy to tell you that it is the fault of Taxi driver to increase the fare. Amazing cronies !
    The strange thing is why not the issue of reducing rental even discuss in coffer’s newspaper ?

  6. scb | December 4th, 2007 at 11:31 pm

    Heard some cabbies opposing the fare increase at FM 9.58 call-in programme on 4th Dec 2007.

    Many of the callers to the Station had good suggestions of alternatives to the fare increase. The cabbies especially, expressed very well when asked for opinions and answered clearly and firmly to the questions posed by the (Progrmme)Host.

    After listening, got the impression that most taxi-drivers are better than the men-in-white, especially the White Attired Adviser.

  7. scb | December 5th, 2007 at 12:59 am

    Btw, the Cabby Callers identified and pinpointed three areas where solutions to their income problems could be tackled. They cited rental charges, ERP and diesel(fuel) tax as some possible areas to look into.

    According to them; as taxis are public transports, ERP Charges could be waived for them to enter the CBDs to cater to customers in them. They said lowering the rental charges will be very helpful and the lowering or waiving of diesel fuel tax would help too.

    The Taxi Drivers certainly knew what they were talking about. Personally, I believe that taxi companies should provide free taxi cleaning services to all their vehicles whenever their hirers want to have it clean-up.

  8. Hong | December 20th, 2007 at 3:28 pm

    I used to pay around an average of $17 to get to Woodlands from Pasir Ris and now I have to pay an average of $21 just to get there!! The increases are ridiculous!! The used to be flat rate of $2 has now gone up by 35% which is very STUPID and CRAZY.

    Taxi companies are not in the real position of cabbies, they are just like common bosses. Clever in talking and making decision whereas taxi drivers are expericing and they know the real current situation.

    To ease the taxi drivers, the companies should lower their rental and help them in whatever is necessary. Increasing the fare is not helping them and in the end, taxi companies are the BIGGEST winner.

    Perhaps it’s time for the companies to sit down and really listen!!

    I trust not long after this, the rental fees will go up and the situation will be back to square 1 for the drivers.

    So who is the winner?

  9. freezyCola | December 22nd, 2007 at 12:14 pm

    Up,Up, Up, another Up, Taxi fare up
    Ridiculous 35% peak our charges.
    We have to avoid the peak hour travel by taxi.
    We have to plan our schedule to cut down the travel by taxi transport.

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