I think it’s really very bad or inconsiderate for me to do something like this, but I think I’d probably have to start somewhere anyway. You see, I was the passenger on SHA 7820 D from Ang Mo Kio to OUB Center and after I alighted from the cab near where I wanted to go to, he decided to go on break.

4:51pm How do I know? Well, I think the meter says so – amidst other things that indicates on-call pickup, ERP and, yes, break. At first, I found it rather strange that the driver did not go to the drop off point, where I was supposed to alight from. Moreover, it was still drizzling and… which taxi driver is that inconsiderate to let their passengers get off in the rain? I thought all taxi drivers are supposed to be helpful and considerate – as painted by the taxi companies?

4:53pm After walking briskly to the shelter where the drop off point is, I noticed that was a long queue at the drop off point – all visibly waiting for a cab. Then I realised. The cab driver was waiting till 5:00pm, when he can earn an additional $3.00 surcharge for picking up passengers during peak hour. In addition, he would also have earned an additional 35% off the $3.00, which works out to be about $1.00 – a grand total of $4.00! Just for waiting for 7 minutes more! You know how much that means? If you run it just on 35% off metered fare, that means the driver would have to travel till the amount of around $12.00. Now, for no rhyme or reason, he gets an additional $4.00! Which taxi driver won’t want that?

4:59pm There were visibly at least 2 taxis with the ON-CALL sign turned on (the first one with a card sign – the manual one, while the second one has the electronic version) and another with HIRED turned on with no one insider – both ON-CALL just opposite of a taxi stand with a long queue and the HIRED one just in front of the queue (I have got totally no idea why he was HIRED and waiting there with no one insider; maybe he just alighted someone who rushed back to office to grab something? I won’t know for sure). Hmm… Disappear Taxi before CBD Surcharge Kicks In Syndrome (DiTaBCeSKiS – the "Ce" represents the Central Business District in CBD)? Hmm… it’s a case of can-see-cannot-board (thanks, Alice).

5:00pm The first ON-CALL taxi moved forward to a drop off point and spoke briefly to one of the people who are waiting there. I am not sure what the conversation was about, but the taxi driver moved off without picking him up. The second one then drove up to the same place and spoke to the same person before picking him up. Needless to say, ON-CALL subsequently became HIRED and he drove off. I am not sure if that passenger (male) paid additional for the supposed ON-CALL, but I highly doubt so – I mean, if that passenger wanted to make a call, why did he bother standing there and waiting for a cab? Moreover, I don’t think that the 2nd cab meant to be the passenger’s on-call cab because the taxi driver had been waiting there for the longest time. I mean, if you were the driver, and you have a passenger who called for a cab, will you wait for  your passenger to run in the rain to your cab? In addition, the passenger who called would have specified that he or she is waiting at the drop off/pick-up point and not in the rain.

So, what’s the morale of this observation? I think we need a staggered CBD and peak hour surcharge. Perhaps the taxi companies can consider this following fare plan:

  • 4:30pm – 4:44pm: $0.50 CBD and 10% of metered fare
  • 4:45pm – 4:59pm: $1.00 CBD and 20% of metered fare
  • 5:00pm – 5:59pm: $2.00 CBD and 30% of metered fare
  • 6:00pm – 7:59pm: $3.00 CBD and 35% of metered fare
  • 8:00pm – 11:59pm: $3.00 CBD (and perhaps 40% of metered fare to cope with disappearing taxies in heartlands – courtesy of Alice again)

See? There you have it. A new fare plan to help cope with disappearing taxies before 5:00pm. I am sure a lot of people will welcome this idea – just like how we implemented the staggered surcharge for disappearing taxis before midnight.

Comments, anyone? =)

Ed: Oh ya, I have some photos to go along with this post – to be uploaded later. Thanks to Alice for bearing in the rain while I ran to the dentist for my surgery. See? I is Citizen blogger.

Reader's Comments

  1. WishBoNe | December 17th, 2007 at 5:32 pm

    Keyword here is “painted by the taxi companies”. I once hit my head on the roof while alighting because I was carrying a huge and heavy luggage. The driver? Sitting pretty down in his driver’s seat, doing his driver’s job. They only help you when it’s at the airport or you request them.

  2. nicole | December 17th, 2007 at 5:43 pm

    These are the black sheeps that ruin the whole of the taxi’s drivers image. Sigh… I do meet a few good ones, whom are really nice and helpful, and nasty ones too…

    There was a time when I was in a cab, and really sick with a near 40 degree fever. The driver insisted that I accept the Woods Peppermint sweets and even adjusted the air-con for me whilst travelling. Really made my day though. 🙂 Wished I remembered his car plate, so I can write a commendation letter. That’s my only regret.

  3. DK | December 17th, 2007 at 5:54 pm

    OEI! Don’t give the taxi company more ideas leh. Hahahaha….

  4. spyer | December 17th, 2007 at 8:00 pm

    Why would they bother with such a complex staggered fare structure? They are likely to up everything in one or two steps. Remember the staggered ERP fees that we have now, the congestion is there.

    With the staggered fee structures, the taxi drivers will do the same thing – wait for the period that offers the best return. It is a simple thing – survival. They need to make enough to cover the rental fees in the fastest way possible.

    The root cause for everything here is the rental fees. The taxi companies (especially the state owned ones) simply want the cake.

  5. Cobalt Paladin | December 18th, 2007 at 5:16 am

    I thought the 35% is the peak hour surcharge and only applies to the metered fare and would not apply to the $3 (which is the city area surcharge)?

  6. xizor2000 | December 18th, 2007 at 8:02 am

    All these surcharges should go and have a high flag down. That’s all. Demand is demand is demand. Why make demand at certain locations worth more than that elsewhere because of a ‘design flaw’ of our city where you have a concentration of people at certain places at particular hours? Why should anyone pay more to make the cabbies go to where his business is? Cabbies say that driving a cab is like a business, but where in the world do you find a business whereby the businessman can choose whether he wants to do your business or not, or you actually need to give this businessman more money so he will come and do your business?

  7. SS Lee | December 18th, 2007 at 9:11 am

    There could be a scam going on now. I also observe that once the cab alights passengers within CBD cab stands area closer to peak/midnight surcharges, they will have ON CALL sign immediately activated. Could it be that they wait for calls to come in from another cab stand nearby to earn the extra?
    Raising these surcharges (and a % -based peak hour charge) will only incentivise them to continue this!!!!

  8. Simply Jean » Blog Archive » More cabs? Really? | December 18th, 2007 at 9:29 am

    […] for a cab even at 4:45pm. Well, perhaps again, it’s a demand and supply issue, but what I witnessed yesterday was definitely disgusting. In order to earn that extra $3.00 and to count the flag down rate into […]

  9. Daily SG: 18 Dec 2007 « The Singapore Daily | December 18th, 2007 at 10:36 am

    […] by The Singapore Daily on 18 December 2007 ERPains, Trains & Automobiles – Simply Jean: SHA 7820 D and other taxi drivers, sorry, you just got pwned – Praveen Rajan: Simei, Sin Meng & SMRT – Youth.sg: “I’m Taking Taxi Back”: An Ode to […]

  10. zeezzen | December 18th, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Why are Singaporeans still taking taxi? Obviously the Taxi companies and drivers are trying to take huge advantage from us and treating us like a fool and what people out there are doing is.. They are willing to be taken advantage of! What? Just don’t take taxi from now on!

  11. yonanz | December 18th, 2007 at 10:32 pm

    hm is the new fee system proposed by you going to solve the problem?

    It is a vicious cycle, and from what i see, defining a wider period of time as “peak hour period” is not going to solve the problem. taxi drivers at 4.23 is still gona do the same thing- on call, shake legs, wait for 4.30.

  12. Chin | December 20th, 2007 at 4:22 am

    I work in a school where a high enough percentage of pupils who received the Financial Assistance Scheme have one of their parents who is a taxi driver. If I am one such driver, I would wait 7 minutes for the extra $4 too. $4 might be the allowance for my child for 2 days. What is 7 minutes compared to the chance a blogger who might have a chai latte for maybe more than $4 know about my family?

  13. Simply Jean | December 21st, 2007 at 10:07 am

    @WishBoNe: Yeah… I met a lot of these… but…

    @Nicole: … I also met a few good ones. too bad… there are really few

    @DK: Heh heh…

    @spyer: actually, the litmus test is for them to remove all the ERP gantries to compare the jams. This will determine how effective the gantries are. But the problem is, what happens if the gantries prove to be ineffective? Millions have been spent on the gantries and the system behind it.

    @Cobalt Paladin: Oh yes, sorry, my bad.

    @xizor2000: hmm… because even as a businessman(woman), you can still choose not to do anyone’s business. the perogative is still theirs to say.

    @SS Lee: actually I won’t know for sure about ON-CALLs. I have always thought that they can’t put it on-demand… whereas you can have an option for “breaks”

    @zeezzen: to some people, it’s hard not to take cabs especially if they can afford it. it’s time vs. money. =) I know of friends who depend on taxis a lot. actually, i used to too, but now I have direct buses and trains, so I’m sworn off for a while

    @yonanz: well, they might eventually have a whole day surcharge thingie… which will result in a single high flag down rate. i believe evolution is taking place now.

    @Chin: I know for sure that they must earn at least $1000 per month because if they don’t then it’s better off for them to sign on to be a paid taxi driver. Yes, SMRT has this option for paid taxi drivers, but they are only paid $1000 a month. I agree that it’s the perogative of the taxi drivers not to fetch anyone. However, in doing so, they are also breaking the law. It’s akin to stealing, robbery and extortion. But as the saying goes, “you can do anything as long as you don’t get caught”. If what the taxi driver are doing is right, then why would the LTA go all out to police them? Even if they need the money, it’s all in their conscience to earn it well. Do you mean to say that as long as I am poor, I have the rights to lose my conscience? I agree that Singapore is a harsh city and probably not the best place for people who are not doing well, but the taxi drivers are not the only ones – everyone is in it – but does everyone have to get their money in a dishonest manner? Hmm…

  14. xizor2000 | December 21st, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Jean, the matter is, if they can choose not to do someone’s business, then that means that life isn’t that tough, isn’t it? Above which, it’s not like the customer is making a unreasonable demand. But here we have someone turning down the offer NOT to sell you something, when you didn’t even have the right to state the terms in the first place. * sigh *

  15. Simply Jean » Blog Archive » Taxi fare hike revisited | December 22nd, 2007 at 11:27 pm

    […] one of my readers left a message defending the taxi driver that took a break for 7 minutes so that he can earn that […]

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