Singapore, perhaps well-known for having one of the most complicated taxi fare and perhaps going to be known as the land of surcharges, has imposed on a new taxi surcharge specially for the coming F1 race this Saturday. Yes, you hear me right! They are going to implement a $5 F1 surcharge… no, not for the passengers to get a taste of F1 racing by the taxi driver, but to attract taxi drivers into the areas.

Common logic would have said that were passengers are, taxi drivers should logically go there to pick up passengers. However, there’s the issue of traffic jams and taxi drivers may find this unappealing since the opportunity cost is very high should they be stuck in a jam. The surcharge is meant to attract the drivers to pick up passengers in the F1 area but some are thinking that the effort is not worth the extra $5.

In Singapore speak, it’s “you give me money I also don’t want because I will be stuck there for ages”. Again, it’s little surprise on how the taxi companies think that money will solve all problem. Speaking of which, “eh, diesel price is at S$1.665 liao hor, get rid of the stupid diesel surcharge leh!”.

More firms impose levy

But drivers, commuters and shops lukewarm to move for race weekend

By Tessa Wong

MORE taxi companies are imposing an extra surcharge in the Formula One SingTel Singapore Grand Prix area during the coming weekend.

Comfort DelGro, which operates the largest fleet here with Comfort and CityCab taxis, said it will be charging $5 extra to pick up passengers in the area surrounding the Marina Bay street circuit this weekend.

Its spokesman declined to give further details, saying that it would release further information in the week.

Smart Taxis also said it would levy that charge, with the same timings and locations as SMRT.

On Saturday, SMRT announced that its taxis would be charging an extra $5 surcharge to pick up passengers from 14 locations in and around the F1 track.

It will apply only from 10.30pm to midnight on Friday (practice) and Saturday (qualifying), and from 9.30pm to midnight on Sunday, the night of the race.

An SMRT spokesman said it decided to impose the surcharge after discussions with its drivers. She said it expected an increase in demand during that period and the surcharge is meant to attract drivers to that area.

Premier Taxis said it is still considering whether to levy the surcharge while Trans-Cab was uncontactable at press time.

Only Prime Taxis said it would not join in. ‘This is our contribution to our customers,’ said its managing director, Neo Nam Heng.

The surcharge is likely to affect customer traffic a little, said retailers and food and beverage operators in the area. Many of them are already resigned to the fact that there may be lower customer traffic due to road closures.

‘I don’t think it will be very busy. It will be hard for people to go in and then they will still have to pay more to get out,’ said Linus Victor, an employee at Harry’s Bar at Suntec City.

Cab drivers interviewed said the surcharge is unlikely to entice them to seek customers in the area, as they anticipate traffic jams.

‘Yes, there will be people taking taxis, but is it worth it to go in there and just pick up one passenger for $5? I don’t think so. It’s so troublesome,’ said Joseph Chia, an SMRT cab driver.

Comfort cabby Tan Hung Song added: ‘It depends on the situation. I may not go in unless I receive a booking.’

Locals called the surcharge ‘inconvenient’ and said it might deter them from taking taxis or even entering the area.

‘It might be annoying and unfair for people who happen to be in the area and are not attending the F1.

‘If I were there, I would just take the MRT home, or take it to Orchard and take a taxi from there instead,’ said fashion communication lecturer Ginette Chittick, 31.

K. Chong, a communications executive in her 50s, said she would vote with her feet.

‘I will avoid the area if I have no business there. For shopping and entertainment, I can go to other places.’

Additional reporting by Ang Yiying

Source: Straits Times Interactive,

Article extracted on 22nd September 2008

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