Why should Singaporeans Boycott Uber, UberX or Uber Taxi?


With past couple of weeks with Uber company offering free rides under UberX or Uber Taxi, Consumers were delighted that they were able to get two free rides a day. While  the drivers for UberX and Taxis are happily earning to the max.

It brought cheers to consumers and drivers, but there are some angry passengers too. They couldn’t get a free ride after trying to get one after 45 minutes. It’s just a marketing strategy by Uber to market their services to the Singapore consumers.

Let’s get back to reality, here are a list of concern that Singaporeans should think about before using their services again.

1) Credit card information – While the credit card details are stored in the Uber data storage which might be prone by hackers

2) Global Position System (GPS) – Your traveling pattern will be known to unknown as Uber is using GPS to track where your journey starts and ends. Thus disclosing your location to unknown sources.

3) Credit card payment – The payment terminal is not located in Singapore but in United States where you might suffered exchange loss. Right now there isn’t significant different as they are still offering 25% discount on your taxi rides.

4) Unethical ways of doing business

I) Seeking customers to release details of  which taxi drivers and their contact who do not sign up with Uber. While it’s no wrong to share the good things to others, but it’s wrong to share our contact to other people without our permission. It’s the same that as a taxi driver, we do not send out passenger contact details to third parties. It’s the privacy of our rights that the contact must be kept confidential at all times.

II) Which ever taxi drivers that took up their free IPhone and their jobs, received a call from Uber that they are not allowed to use other third parties apps and are told to delete them off. Who are they to mind our business which apps taxi drivers use since they do not have any legal document that say that taxi drivers are not allowed to use other apps. This also create an anti-competition act in Singapore!

5) Most Importantly, Why we Singaporeans should boycott Uber?

While the government are not allowed to ban Uber outright due to the free trade agreement, but What I’m seeking is changing the business model of Uber and UberX which is using metered-charged system (I have previously mention in my blog).

The company comes here to earn money in Singapore without any employment benefit to Singaporeans. Yes they have Singaporean on the ground to run the promotion and signing up drivers. But once they have establish themselves in Singapore, all these job are made redundant. For your information, even their telephone operators are foreigners based overseas, using internet to contact drivers and customers. In other words, their company is nothing but an empty shell in Singapore.

While we welcome foreign companies to set-up their business in Singapore, we need to see economic growth and employment benefit for Singapore. Without any employment benefit to Singaporeans, what the use to welcome this type of company to operate in Singapore? I would rather don’t welcome them at all!

The choice is yours, nobody is stopping you from using Uber! But think again, if any company that comes to Singapore to start business without any employment benefit to Singaporeans, then there will be no job for Singaporeans in the future.

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Ban Uber Taxi in Singapore


Dear Minister Lui,

I’m a full-time taxi driver and I would like to share with you my concerned about Uber limousine Taxi into Singapore market.

Uber had come into Singapore market since 2013, catering services that offer high-end limousine services to their member. Lately, they started their new UberX which cater to the standardise taxi limousine.

In the newspaper report, they had highlight that they do not infringe the LTA rules as they cater to their “Member” only. So What are their so-called members? Members are those who just registered in the Apps and instantly becomes their member. It’s like a wolf in a sheep clothing.

The main concern that I have is as follows:

  1. Private limousine should not charge by meter but rather they should be charged a flat fee. Why are they allowed to charge based on meter which is no different from our local taxi, be it standard taxi or limousine taxi?

  2. Anyone can become a Uber driver so long they have a valid insurance to have commercial coverage. So where is the service standard that we are looking at? Anyone without a valid vocational license can become a Uber driver so long they are registered with Uber. This lead to another question: Is the LTA is the main authority to allow who can drive a taxi in Singapore or Uber are the authority?

    This will give taxi driver want-to-be no incentive to get the vocational license if they can drive one without having the license.

  3. The re-surfacing of pirate taxi! With the private car enable to pick up commuters, how can the commuters knows if they are genuine taxi drivers, there will bound to have some driver taking the risk picking commuters without proper insurance coverage just like early 80s.

  4. Bad Taxi service without proper control will create free for all to pick up commuters off the roads.

  5. Protect the only jobs for Singaporean only!

    As a displaced PMET, driving a taxi is one of the last resort that we have to survive in today high cost of living in Singapore, With Uber Taxi services, apart from Singaporean can drive, they allowed PR as their limousine Taxi driver as well.

    If this is the direction the government that heading, the only Singaporean job will be at risk! What can those other misplaced PMET going to do is there isn’t anymore taxi driving as the last resort?

    This is going to reflect badly towards the government caring towards Singaporean!

  6. Negative image of Singapore will be presented to Tourist. While we are known to have strict regulations, nothing is done with this instant. How would the tourists feel if the they take a private vehicle as taxi?

  7. How accurate the meter can be? Although it goes according to the GPS via their phone applications, LTA have no control of how the meter has been charged, will the commuters fairly over charged will be unknown.

  8. The last of the concern is for all commuters! The Safety of the commuters.

    With LTA have not authority on who UBER engaged, effectively those former taxi driver who had been revoked of the taxi vocational license can continue to ply their trade via UBER. Current Taxi Driver with valid vocational license will conduct themselves well as their vocational license is at stake. But nothing can be say so if it is from private taxi.

With France, Belgium, Germany and England, in United States (Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Chicago), they have banned or having the intention of banning UBER and other private taxi which do not have the regulation control of the taxi drivers. It has brought unfair advantage of those unlicensed taxi drivers over those license drivers.

With the above concern that I have highlighted, I hoped that your good ministry will take a proper stand on this issue. Any misstep by your good ministry will create chaos in the public transport system that the government had built up over the years.

Note: This email will be cc to The Online Citizen, TR Emeritus, The Real Singapore and LTA

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.

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

Tips on getting a taxi during Peak hours and rainy days


singapore-taxi

Have you wonder why you always have difficulties in getting a taxi during peak hour especially Monday morning, Friday Evening and Rainy Days?

Before I touch on the tips on getting a taxi, let me highlight how Comfort and SMRT booking system work.

Comfort/City Taxi – 6552 1111

1) There are two system that the taxi driver have.

I. Scheme 1 – Those taxi driver are not allowed to reject call booking for more than 3 times otherwise they will be penalised and suspened for an hour. Once suspended, they will be directed to scheme 2. generally, taxi driver in scheme 1 will get priority in their booking.

II. Scheme 2 – Many taxi driver are in these scheme as they are allowed to take booking as and when they want. In this scheme, those booking that have no taker will be channel to this scheme for the taxi drivers.

2) The bookings are made to the taxi drivers by assignment only. This is means that the booking will be assigned to one taxi driver (no bidding for it). If the taxi driver rejects, then the system will jump to assign to the next taxi driver and so on.

3) Generally, the assignment of the booking are being made to taxi driver that have some distance away for the location (about 1Km away or more).

4) Advance booking can be accepted by the Iphone or through the system by the taxi drivers.

5) Currently they have about 16,000 Taxi available

SMRT – 6555 8888

1) Generally, booking to the driver are prompt to the nearest available taxis in the vicinity with the faster finger gets (bidding system).

2) Advance booking can only be accepted through the system.

3) Currently they have about 3,300 taxi available.

Getting those information aligned, I will proceed on with the Do’s and Don’t when booking a taxi.

Morning Peak Hours

Do’s

1) Try to state the location you are going especially you are going to residential areas.

2) Give mobile number. These will enable the taxi drivers to contact you when they arrives. Not to worry on this as only those taxi driver that confirm your booking able to know your contact number.

3) Inform the taxi company to ask the taxi driver to contact you when they arrived. Generally this show that you will be expecting to wait for the taxi.

4) Indicated pick-up area. Eg Lobby, Carpark

Don’t

1) If you are going to Tuas, Loyang area, do not indicate it to the operators.

2) Do not indicate pick-up area at main road, bus stop. Generally taxi driver will not pick up the booking as it seem that you will hopped on the next available taxi approaching thus wasting their trip.

Evening Peak

Do’s

1)Indicate where you are going especially you are going to town or nearby residential areas like, Tiong Bahru, Outram, River Valley. If you are going within town, eg. Shenton Way to Marina Bay Sands, it’s  a die die must indicate.

2) Give mobile numbers. It’s especially important in the town area as there are thousands of people waiting for the taxi.

Don’t

1) Indicate that you are going to Yishun, Jurong as generally taxi driver would not want to take up the call if you are heading towards there.

2) Indicate only Office number. This will save you time and ensure that the taxi driver picks up the correct person.

3) Let the taxi driver to wait for you in the single lane driveway. For example, Great Eastern Building, 6 Battery Road, UOB Plaza, UOB Center etc. Due to heavy traffic during the time, taxi are not allowed to wait for so long as it will hog up the drive way. Thus taxi driver will cancel the booking if the person is not there as they are going to made a very big detour to comes back to the location.

When it rains or you are not able confirm a taxi, there is a little trick that you can used on the SMRT taxi (Cannot confirm if it’s works on Comfort/Citycabs as I’m not driving theirs).

The trick is, call SMRT by phone to 6555 8888 to connect to the operator. Indicate that you want an advance booking (If you don’t mind paying extra $4.70 – [$8 – $3.30]).  For example, if now is 8am, the earliest advance booking is 8.30am. Inform them to put the remarks that the taxi driver can come anytime and call you once they arrives.

This trick can work as the prompting of the advance booking is different from  the current booking and not many people are using the advance booking. Thus priority is being given to the advance booking. These will show up in the taxi driver system even they have passenger inside the taxi. The worst scenario is that you had to wait for half an hour for the taxi to arrives (better than no taxi right?)

I will only touch on these two taxi companies as generally people are calling these two companies for taxi. I hoped that the tips I have given will help you to lessen the waiting time calling for a taxi.

Why passenger are diffcult to get a Taxi during rainy days


There are a few reason why people can’t get taxi during rainy days. Here, as a taxi driver myself, I would like to offer some reasons for the difficulties of getting a taxis.

1) It’s true that some drivers rest during the rain. Why they don’t want to drive have 2 reasons.

I) higher accident rate – penalty of $2000 – $4000 depends on which types of taxi we are driving.

II) can’t see the road given the condition. Myself being the young driver sometime cannot see the road clearly when it’s rain. So how able those older taxi drivers? Wouldn’t it make it worst?

2) Much higher demand for taxi during rainy days. Thus Waiting longer is unavoidable.

3) Taking a passenger from point A to point B takes about 50% to 100% of the normal driving time.

4) If we add all the above together, being number of cabs and passenger equal with normal days, you would need to wait longer for the cabs.

5) Now most taxi companies have centralise signage system. When Hired or On call, there wouldn’t be any call booking coming in. Also, the signage is display by the centralise system not by driver itself. Thus I hoped that people stop saying that we purposely we put the signage on to  “Hired” or “On Call”. It’s doesn’t make sense to drive around with these two signage not to earn more.

6) A lot of people don’t take taxi often, thus only it’s rain then take taxi, they doesn’t know how the taxi system works and thus complain they couldn’t get a taxi. Ask a regular taxi taker, and they would tell you how the get the taxi and they know it’s normal during rainy day to slightly difficult to get a taxi and they sometime book in advance.

7) Why we don’t take the street passenger have two reasons:

I) Sometime we can’t see clearly on the side of the street as we need to concentrate on the road.

II) Taking passenger in the lobby or covered shelter will not wet interior of the taxi thus many taxi driver prefer to pick up passenger from the lobby.

After writing so much about difficulties to get a taxi during rainy days, I hoped those complainer/s would put themselves in our shoes and understand the situations.