You be my Judge! Am I unfair to certain Taxi Company in my Blog?


In my earlier post, Why taxi always not there when we need one? I covered on the various possible reasons of why taxis are always not around when passengers want to flag a taxi.

A guest by the moniker of  had made a comment on the post and this is what the person said:

“What do you think that the cabby spend time and fuel to drive all the way into Tanjong Rhu for? Would mrnewbird or other Smrt drivers perform this charity act when they are nearby Tanjoing Rhu? Without the call charge, he could get a pax in the estate nearby easily after morning peak hour, ie. Old Airport and Kampong Arang.”

@mrnewbird u don’t have to target other cab coy to try to earn a living driving Smrt. and dun smoke gullible commuters with the 1 million people call city/comfort at the same time analogy. that number is more like in a day than at the same moment.”

I would like to make a reply on this and share my views on his comments. This is exactly the sad state of taxi drivers today.

On one hand, some taxi drivers have tons of call bookings while others have to even struggle to get just one. For one taxi driver from Comfort whom I have known, he picks up his customers only through call booking,  and if there isn’t any call booking, he would lost on where to get his passengers. Another taxi driver from the same company with more than 10 years of experience mentioned to me that  he used to wait for call booking until one of the senior driver shared with him that if he simply just wait for call bookings, he is heading for doom. He hail the senior driver’s words and he has been since treating call bookings as a bonus and not a necessity.

For one, refusing to pick up a passenger, the taxi drivers are actually infringing the regulation of LTA (Link). He will be fined $300 along with 6 demerit points under the rule of “Refusing, without reasonable excuse, to hire out taxi or to convey passenger”.

For an experienced driver, one would choose to go to Tg Rhu or Meyer Road after exiting Ford Road via ECP other than other places due to 2 reasons:

1) Shorter empty taxi cruising time 2) higher demand for Taxi in these 2 areas compare to other area nearby.

When there is no call booking, one should pick up a passenger if there is one, thus minimising the empty taxi cruising time.

Quoting from my personal experience, an example would be waiting for call at the taxi stop behind “The Sail”, due to lack of customers, there is lots of taxis driving around. There was a time when I took a passenger and came back to the same place 10 minutes later, he was still there.

The moral of the story is, don’t overly depend on call booking only for taxi drivers especially the new ones.

In my earlier post, I had mentioned that Single Booking System is the way to go. The advantages are as follows:

i) Commuters just need to call a common line that dispatch the booking to all taxi in the surrounding area. This will save the trouble for commuters to call different companies at the same time.

ii) With Single Booking system, drivers do not necessary need to go to a certain companies to ensure job availability to them, thus there won’t be any monopoly by certain taxi companies. This will create a competition among taxi companies to hold-on to the driver (thus giving them better benefit to retain them), lowering down the daily taxi rental.

iii) Taxi Drivers will no longer think that they definitely will have call bookings for them when they reach a destination. Thus more motivated to pick up passenger on the street.

Lastly, my personal rebuttal:

I do not need to target other coy earn a living driving SMRT. For those who know me, especially Taxi Drivers, knows that I earn a pretty decent money, on top of that, advising other new drivers on how to ply the trade with integrity.

All taxi coys have their good and bad. I do not target them unfairly, rather I’m just speaking out what I feel that can help the commuters. If you had follow my blogs, you should have read that I have ask commuters to call not just SMRT taxis but other taxi coy like Trans-Cab as well.

Analogy is always analogy, it’s up to people to believe it or not until they give it a try. If you took offence to it, I’m sorry, but I’m just speaking out from my personal experience.

I’s up to people to judge if I’m getting personal on this issue or I’m just speaking out to help them.

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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