For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction – this is one of the most fundamental laws that students learn in Physics 101; and while not everybody takes physics, it is something that most of us should be familiar with in our daily lives.

However, as we progress to higher applications of physics, or for that matter, any subject, there’s a tendency to lose our connection with our fundamentals, and that’s when simple problems can no longer be solved easily.

I am not sure if this is an after thought, or is it an oversight. Not only did the new hike do away with the staggered midnight charge – which brings back the disappearing taxis before midnight syndrome (DiTaBeM – yes, I’m inline with standards for creating difficult to remember acronyms) in most heartlands, it now introduces another problem – the disappear taxis at the fringe of town syndrome (DiTaFriToS – doesn’t it just sound like some Mexican food?)

I thought it was a rather obvious problem – if I am a taxi driver and if there’s a taxi stand before the CBD and one after the CBD zone, which one will I stop at? Hmm… that’s really a tough question. If I stop at the one outside CBD, then I don’t quite know where the passenger that I pick up will go. If I stop at the one inside the CBD, then there’s the issue of ERP charges. Will I be able to pick up a passenger that will make the ERP charges worthy?

Hey, wait! Won’t the taxi company refund me my ERP charges if I am unable to pick up a passenger within 15 minutes of entering the CBD? But what if the passenger inside the CBD is going to somewhere that is of a shorter distance? Won’t that still be a gamble anyway?

Oh, I remember, there’s now a city surcharge of $3.00! So even though the distance is short, I’d still earn an additional $3.00 no matter what. Hmm, that sounds like a good deal!

Oh wait, it’s 4:45pm now! Ok… I’ll wait 15 more minutes to earn that additional $3.00. Meanwhile, I think I’ll just take a break and go to that newly opened Kopi-tiam.

Enough said.

IF YOU need to hail a cab on the fringe of downtown, be prepared to wait, a transport expert warned yesterday.

In the wake of a new pricing structure that gives some cabbies a bonus for picking up passengers in the heart of the city, many are likely to skip the outskirts and make a beeline for places like Orchard Road.

Among the areas likely to be affected are taxi stands in high traffic areas such as Far East Plaza, Shaw House and Tanglin Mall near Orchard Road and The Concourse in Beach Road.

National University of Singapore transport researcher and postgraduate student Han Songguang called the new surcharges ‘very bad news’ for people working or living in these areas just outside downtown.

‘I am not sure how taxi companies or LTA will be able to enforce or discourage errant cabbies,’ he said on Monday.

The same day, ComfortDelGro announced it will levy a $3 surcharge on passengers who hop into a cab in the downtown area during peak hours – up from $1.

Its fare revision includes higher flag-down rates and metered rates but lower call booking charges during prime hours.

Member of Parliament Ong Kian Min, who is deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, said he is concerned over the downtown surcharges.

Without a gradual scale, drivers will likely head to the city proper, he said.

‘It’s a choice between $3 or nothing for drivers, so this will definitely influence their driving behaviour. We may head to more problems and complaints, in the end, if taxi drivers do avoid taxi stands along the fringe.’

Comfort – the largest company here, with 65 per cent of the cabs on the road – said the new city surcharge is designed to encourage taxis to pick up passengers in the city centre. Cabbies leave downtown for the suburbs and find little incentive to drive all the way back to pick up new passengers, it said.

While the surcharge may address the problem of too few cabs in the city during peak hours, Comfort acknowledged it may create a shortfall on the outskirts of downtown.

Comfort said it will ‘keep a close eye’ on cabbies to make sure they do not zip by taxi stands there. But when asked specifically how it will monitor its drivers, the company declined to comment.

Yesterday, only one passenger in 10 who discussed the fare increase with The Straits Times was ready to walk in and pay the city surcharge if left stranded.

The rest, like frequent cab user Carol Lee, would opt to wait or call a cab at the cost of $3.50.

‘There’s not much difference when you compare a call charge and the new rates, so I would rather call one,’ said the 33-year-old bank manager.

Marketing manager Gary Loh agreed.

‘I will be prepared to wait 10 minutes tops and if there is still no sign of a cab, I’ll call one. I’m too lazy to walk into town,’ said the 31-year-old.

SMRT Taxis, Premier and Smart have confirmed they will also raise fares.

Prime Taxis will look to implement new surcharges but will not raise flag-down fares for at least the next three months.

Trans-Cab could not be reached for comment.

mariaa@sph.com.sg

jessicaj@sph.com.sg

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 12th December 2007



Reader's Comments

  1. DK | December 12th, 2007 at 9:31 am

    Well, to solve THAT problem, add surcharge for outskirts of downtown. That should solve everything. If not, add more surcharge. hahaha.

  2. Simply Jean | December 12th, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    @DK: Ya… actually I was thinking of staggered city surcharge. You know? Divide Singapore into zones so that the further away, the less surcharge you pay, but that means there must be surcharge everywhere else those zones without surcharge will not have any taxis

  3. Daily SG: 13 Dec 2007 « The Singapore Daily | December 13th, 2007 at 11:12 am

    […] Taxi Fare Hike: Who will it benefit? – Daily Reflections: Taxi fare hike again! – Simply Jean: Taxi fare hike: Too soon another problem – GeekSG: Beat the Taxi Price Hike with […]

  4. duckman | December 14th, 2007 at 12:26 am

    we got CEOs of GLCs with shit for brains. we have pap for putting their croonies in place.. wait.. they are brilliant! their profits will shoot through the roof!.. my mistake

  5. Uncle Gweilo | December 14th, 2007 at 1:08 pm

    Something I wish to state upfront: I’m not a Singaporean and have only read the articles that have been hyperlinked on blogs such as this by way of knowledge of this issue- my experiences in Singapore being somewhat out of date (I also take the MRT and walk, for the most part, when I am there as a tourist).

    Firstly, it’s a pity that there isn’t a well developed network of outlets selling Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LGP) in Singapore. Most of the taxis in major centres in Australia run on LPG as opposed to petrol or diesel- and it is a fairly simple conversion on a petrol-engine car. Petrol prices in Australia fluctuate due to market forces on a roughly weekly or fortnightly cycle, but it is around AUD 1.45 ( SGD 1.85) a litre, but LPG is around AUD 0.60 ( SGD 0.76) at the current time. Consumption, however, is about 30% higher for LPG over petrol in terms of the number of litres used to cover a specified distance. This noted; the cost of running a car on LPG is about 55% of that for petrol. Given that an average taxi in Sydney will cover of the order of 180,000 to 200,000+ Km per year, the AUD 2,000 cost of retro-fitting the tank (or the cost of a dedicated vehicle over a standard petrol-powered vehicle of the same model) is recovered in fairly short order. Service and maintenance of LPG-powered vehicles is not much more than that of a petrol-powered vehicle.

    Also, retro-fitting a tank into a Toyota Crown that is the principle model used as taxis in Singapore, from my memory, will take up half of the usable boot space of the vehicle. While not a problem moving mainly passengers with some shopping bags around the city and residents around the island, it will prove a major problem to transporting passengers with suitcases and other luggage coming from, or going to, Changi Airport. A solution to that would be for the taxi companies to convert something like a Toyota Hiace into a taxi or import either a London cab style vehicle or a large Australian passenger car for primary airport use.

    A point that I have not noticed any major focus being made in the linked article is on multi-hire of taxis. This has proved a contentious issue in the past in Australia as there is a great potential for drivers to exploit the regulations concerning the issue. Multi-hiring may be restricted to certain times- late at night and during “crash” procedures when there are simply not enough taxis on the road. Can someone please list the rules governing the multiple hiring of a taxi in Singapore?

    Otherwise, let me illustrate two possible scenarios to make a more efficient use of taxi resources. Destinations, distances, and fares are for illustration purposes only. Imagine that two couples, who do not know each other, meet on a rank waiting for a taxi after eating dinner in the same area (e.g. Newton Circus). The first couple live a distance that equates to a $10 fare (Namly Estate or Sixth Avenue?), and the second couple are a $25 fare from the pick-up point (Jurong?). Both couples agree to share a taxi. Dropping the first couple off will require a detour off the quickest route to the second couple’s destination, and the final fare will now be $30. The two possible scenarios for payment are as follows:
    • The first benefits the passengers who get out last. The first couple pays the second couple the cost of their portion of the fare, which gives the second couple a reduction in their fare of $5- which will compensate them for having to divert from their quickest route home. The taxi driver will also benefit to an extent by making an extra $5 on what is basically a single fare to take the second couple home.
    • The second benefits both couples. The first couple pay 75% of the metered fare for their portion of the journey ($7.50) to the taxi driver. The second couple pay 75% of the total metered fare to ($22.50) the driver. Both passengers have made a saving on what they would have paid being the only fare in the taxi, and the taxi driver still makes $30 for the one fare.

    The second option of passengers paying 75% of the metered fare will work even more in the driver’s favour if there are three passengers in the one taxi. Three passengers, for example, going from Newton Circus to Sixth Avenue ($10- driver gets $7.50), Choa Chu Kang (normally $25, but is $30 with the diversion- driver gets another $22.50 at this point), then finally to Woodlands (normally $35, but is now $45 with two diversions- driver gets another $33.75 at this point). Three fares, one taxi. Driver makes $65.75 (hence the appeal for drivers to abuse this system!)

    Interested to read what anyone else thinks of this.

  6. GeekyCoder | December 14th, 2007 at 1:24 pm

    Uncle Gweilo, it might have been workable but the major taxi company’s main priority is to make supernormal profit, other reason is just secondary. Just look at gigantic profit they earned year after year, and you realize it is not about operational cost being high, it’s about making money at all cost at expense of consumers and taxi-driver. Bad time and good time is just a excuse to raise cost. It doesn’t help that union, PTC and many stepboard belong to one big happy money-making family that get to share those money as well eventually. There’s a great deal of intransparency and unaccountability here for our Singapore Inc.
    Has this happened in Australia, I’m sure whatever party will have been forced to early retirement

    Typical Singaporean knows that but just suffer in silence. We know what kind of system is run here very well.

  7. saintmoron | December 14th, 2007 at 7:36 pm

    It is never the welfares of the taxi drivers and the passengers that are the concerns of the taxi companies, the transport regulator (LTA/Consumer Association)and the ministers(parliamentarians).

    The only concern they are interested in, is the profits; money making overrides everything in SIN.

  8. GIST #01: Prices go north for Comfort taxi rides | the(new)mediaslut e-zine | December 16th, 2007 at 4:37 pm

    […] “Not only did the new hike do away with the staggered midnight charge – which brings back the disappearing taxis before midnight syndrome (DiTaBeM – yes, I’m inline with standards for creating difficult to remember acronyms) in most heartlands,” wrote Simply Jean. […]

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