Disappearing Act by taxi drivers angered Commuters


It’s been the long time that I had written in the blog as I had concentrate my posting in my facebook. With the recent article in the straits times, It probe me to continue writing here.

The articles: Are taxis doing a “disappearing act” just before peak-hour surcharges kick in? Or is it simply a case of demand outstripping supply? What are the ways to improve taxi availability? 

What the report said have some valid points. Commuters and Taxi Drivers have their own point of views.

On the commuters’ side, It’s a pain in the neck during these hours:
1) 7.30am to 10.30am (Monday to Friday except Public Holidays)
2) 5pm till 7.30pm (Monday to Friday except Public Holidays)
3) 9.30pm till 10.45pm (Everyday)
4) 9am till 6pm (Weekends and Holidays)

Why is it pain in the neck during this hours mention above? The only reason that I can offer is, everyone needs a taxi during these hours. Remember, there are currently only about 28,000 taxi plying the roads daily.

Assuming 5% of the population looking for a taxi at these timing, 250,000 commuters are looking for taxi. How many can the taxi take a one go? There is always a timing that the commuters are expected to wait a longer than usual before boarding a taxi, coupled with traffic conditions that taxi drivers have to navigate through.

Being a taxi driver for the last three years, it taught me lots of things and I learn from the trade. The few problems that are causing the slow turnovers in my own perspective view are the followings:

1) Uneven geographical location for taxis. Higher demand in the Housing estate going to CBD or industrial estate, resulting shortage of taxi in the estate further away from the mentioned locations. In the evening, higher demand is on the opposite, higher demand in the CBD and Industrial estate. The government had in facts trying to distribute out the prime location to different areas like IBP, CBP etc, but the taxi drivers are not benefiting is as yet. And sorry, I had been digging my brains for the past one year and I had failed to offer any solutions on this problem yet.

2) LTA had a rule or law that requires Taxi Drivers to follow the commuters instructions on which route to take or take the shortest possible route.  This rule comes about is to ensure that taxi drivers do not take a longer route in order earn the extra dollars which I fully agrees. But this rules might not be applicable during the peak hours as there are jam along the route which resulted in slower turnover of the taxis or taxi being caught in the jam. Sometime by taking a longer route which will enable the commuters reaching the destination faster and sometime cheaper (based on the commuters that commented on the route I had taken).

Due to this rule, taxi drivers are afraid to make any recommendation to their commuters for afraid that they will complain against him especially the CDG Drivers. They will just follow the instruction given. Being caught in the jam will cost the commuters to pay more while taxi drivers earning less.

To solved this problem, the rules should be amended to the following:  Taxi Drivers to follow the commuters instructions on which route to take or take the shortest possible route, suggest whichever possible route to get to the commuters’ destinations.

3) The third reason which I’m going to give might anger some taxi drivers, but I need to be fair on the commuters side too… Master your trade well and you should know where to find commuters in the shortest possible time even in the middle of the night. Take pride with what you do and offer no regrets. New Drivers, do not over depend on GPS and know your route as fast as possible.

Taxi drivers are self employed, they do want to earn the highest possible return in the shortest possible time. It’s the same in any trade, the boss would want to earn the most with the least cost and wages. Commuters, please put yourself in the taxi drivers’ shoe and you will understand why.

Lastly, public transports infrastructure needed to ramp up as fast as possible. With better public transport infrastructure, people will tend to drive less and less traffic congestion on the road which will offer the best solutions for everyone.

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Little India Riot Aftermath


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It’s a sad day for Singapore. First Rioting case in 44 years. What cause the riots is everybody’s guess now! Let’s not get into what causes the riot as police investigations are under way now. Till then, let’s us not do the guessing game.

As the dust had settle since, let’s us take a look back on the ground sentiments. For some, anguish,fearful on the extend of the riots. Some are so happy that it’s happens saying it’s a wake up call for the PAP.

For those anguish, fearful. Everyone of us will have the same feeling as you. How can a peaceful nation, Singapore, suddenly having riots over an incident? How safe is Singapore now? Can we still be safe when we go out at night or alone? How can those rioters so disrespectful of our Singapore law? All these questions come into our mind.

For those who are happy, they talk about this is the result of the PAP for bringing in so much foreigners to support the economy.  It’s the failure of the PAP for this riot to happen!

During the riot, people are questioning some the reaction of the police and SCDF. To be fair to the civil servants on the ground, let me say a few fair statement for their reactions:

1) Policemen were seen running away from the angry mob.

  • They were outnumbered at that time. For anyone in that situation, whether you are the ground commander or the police in-charge will ask your man to retreat until enforcement arrives.
  • If the policemen who are outnumbered and continue to stay at the scene, who can ensure that their lives are safe?

2) SCDF Fire Engine Reversing and make a hasty exit from the scene.

  • What can the fire engine do if they stay at the scene? In order to protect the property and the safety of the SCDF personnel, it’s ony the right thing to do is to exit the scene as soon as possible. Let the correct man to do the job.

3) Why the Riot Police arrive so late

  • How fast do you expect the riot police to arrive? Almost immediately after the distress call? Let’s be fair, once button pressed, they need time to go to the scene and to me the response time is reasonable.

4) Why not a single shot fired at the mob?

  • Depend on situations. The mob start to run away once the riot police arrived. With the large number of the riot police around, and no more attacking against the officers on the ground, to fire a shot is an inhuman thing to do. For this, a well done move by the police force.

Let’s get back to the real issue. Minister had called us not to politicised the issue, but can we? Let me explain what’s the real issue leading to the riots (I’m not expert on this matter but giving my view).

  1. In recent years, mass importation of foreigners to our shore, be it expatriate or labour workers, had led to concave of their own people. They coming from different countries and have different culture that is different from us (how about different culture from different countries mixing together?), they don’t even want to integrate into our society. That’s where the tension starts to build up. (Do we see these type of tension when limited importation of foreigner workers?)
  2. Weak Labour Law had led to slavery state of these low-end workers. They do not have any mean of protection from the law against the errant employers and agents. Even when they in dispute with their employers awaiting outcome, they are not allowed to work to survive. Therefore, they do not have any area of letting out their frustrations.
  3. Many of the foreigners that work in Singapore comes from countries that riots are the common scene. It’s their natural behaviour when things turns ugly.

This will not be the one and the last incident to happen to Singapore. With the large importation of the foreigners, Are the Police, Arm Forces ready for more action in the future to come?

Lastly, I wish all injured have a speedy recovery, full punishment to those offender and do not let anyone scot-free.

Why taxi always not there when we need one?


Why taxi always not there when we need one?

In the recent telecast of Red Dot in channel 5, a scenario of a local taxi drought was covered in the episode. Indeed, it seem to have spoken some sense about the situation of the taxi industry in Singapore.

A summary of what the Red Dot had said in the program:

From 2002 to 2012, the population in Singapore increased by 27%, ridership of taxis increased with 16% while population of taxi increased 48%. But why are taxis still always not enough when we need one?

Accordingly to Terence Fan, Associate Professor of Strategic Management of Singapore Management University (SMU), cited the main reason of uneven geographical demand of taxi across Singapore.

In the program, it highlighted the following points:

  1. Why taxi drivers do not want to take calls
  2. Confusing fare structure
  3. Monopoly of the taxi industry by single company.
  4. Individual Booking System

I would attempt to give some insights to the issues highlighted in the program from the perspective of a taxi driver. 

Associate Professor Terence Fan had correctly pointed out the issue with uneven geographical demand of taxi across the island. The main destinations in the morning peak hours are industrial areas like Tuas, CBD Areas like Shenton Way. When we drop off the customer, we will leave the destinations without passengers and travel to the nearest residential area for another pick up.

As I have shared with a reporter before, the places of the least difficulty to get a taxi in the morning are: Jurong, Tampines, Pasir Ris, River Valley, Tiong Bahru, Redhill area, Geylang, Simei. While passengers in the other residential area will probably have difficulties in getting a taxi. Why?

The reason is very simple, say for example. I stay in Choa Chu Kang, when I start my shift and pick a customer to Shenton Way, would you think I would drive back to Choa Chu Kang to pick another customer? The answer is would likely be a ‘NO’ as we want to use the least amount of time to pick up another customer, thus driving to the nearest residential area is a more viable option to take. This results in the scenario of limited taxis in the other residential areas which are further from industrial and commercial areas.

As for the evening peak hours, majority of the customers are going home from industrial area and Central Business District (CBD). After dropping of the customer, only luck has it for us to pick up a customer from residential area, often than not, we will need to drive an empty taxi back to the area where there are more customers.

1) Why don’t taxi drivers pick up the call booking?

If you call for a booking for a pickup at the busstop/taxi stand or main road, likely they will assume you to hop onto an empty taxi to save the booking fee. Since there is no laws to says that customer must wait for the booked taxi to arrive. This hold true especially when it comes to places within electronic road pricing (ERP) areas.

A lot of times, commuters call us up (SMRT) when they couldn’t get hold of the taxi from comfort/citycabs. A lot of times, I would  relate to them the situation with an analogy:

If 1 million commuters are calling them (comfort/citycabs) at the same time, what would your success rate be even though they have more than 16,000 taxi on the road? You probably know the answer yourself.

2) Confusing Fare Structure

Indeed, the fare structure is very confusing with all the surcharges in different areas! Even myself being a taxi driver, I need to think hard on which taxi model does which fare structure. Let alone a common citizen or tourist as an end consumer. With the latest publications of confusing fare structure in the newspaper and TV program, are the taxi company gearing for a fare revision soon? Keeping my fingers crossed!

3) Monopoly by Single Company

As data have shown, currently Comfort/CityCabs is dominating the taxi industry with more than 60% of the total taxi population. Any fare increase/decrease is determined solely by this single company. This has an unhealthy effect to the competition in the industry. Moreover, LTA had put a cap on how much the taxi companies can increase the taxi fleet (that is 2% per year), which means no other taxi companies can really grow and have a head-on with Comfort Delgro in terms of its taxi fleet.

4) Single Booking System

As the programme have correctly pointed out, the current booking system the Land Transport Authority (LTA) have is just to have the phone booking by individual company, so the customer will have to call each company one by one to book for a taxi. A single booking system on the other hand covers all the taxi companies with a single phone call, every taxi in the surrounding area will be able to bid for the job, be it company A or company B or Company C.

With all the advantages towards solving the taxi booking system, there is one major road block in the way. The taxi companies which have a bigger booking pie will not want to go into the system as this would mean their profit from the call booking might decrease tremendously. Therefore in order to solve this situation, the only way out is through legislation by LTA.

In summary, the program did show a good in-depth look at the taxi industry in Singapore. However apart from the issues discussed, the service standard does need to be improved as well as the waiting time of the taxis. As a small note, I am expecting a fare revision soon as a prediction of mine.

For tips of how to hail a cab when you can’t find one. Read my blogposts

Tips on getting a taxi during peak hours and rainy days – part I

Tips on getting a taxi during peak hours and rainy days – part II

Philippines to stop deploying maid to Singapore from Sept 2013


The Philippines is going to stop deployment of her citizen to Singapore as maid from Sept 2013 due to disagreement to the placement fee.

Over the years, Employers had been spoilt for choices to foreign workers without incurring extra cost to hire them (Be it maid or otherwise). All the placement fee has been borne by the employee in other to get work in Singapore.

Singaporean are complaining that PMET being displaced by the foreigners, but why Employers choose to continue employing foreigners?

Most companies in Singapore do not have the HR overseeing the hiring process but handled by the recruitment agent. Thus searching of good hiring requires money for the recruitment agent, either by the hiring company or the job seekers.

Generally, Singaporean do not pay for placement fee but the companies will foot the bail for the recruitment process.

Thus if you are the employer and wish to recruit a new staff, you would be more interested in hiring the foreign job seekers as you do not need to pay for the placement fee. On top of that, you would be able to change/reject the job seekers if they do not perform up to mark.

Thus I urge the Manpower Ministry to look into this issue. I would suggest that legalisation of all employers to borne the placement fee to the recruitment agent. This will in fact help to create a better playing field for the Singaporean seeking jobs.