Some bold measures are needed to put to rest the longstanding problem of disappearing taxis just before peak hours ("No simple solution to cab crunch"; yesterday).
Currently, even passengers who are prepared to pay booking fees and surcharges are not guaranteed a taxi, as cabbies can choose whether or not they want to accept the booking.
I suggest having a central system for all cab companies to allocate bookings instead. The companies can use tracking devices to direct the nearest taxi to pick up the passenger. Cabbies who reject the allocated bookings would face penalties.
The booking fees could go into a central pool and be distributed to drivers at the end of the financial year, in the form of a bonus based on their performance.
Rather than measure cabbies' performance based on the time spent on the road, why not measure the time they spent ferrying passengers? This will discourage cabbies from choosing their passengers or waiting for bookings.
Also, cabbies tend to avoid the Central Business District because of the Electronic Road Pricing charges. We should waive all such charges for taxis on duty.
The midnight surcharge should also be scrapped. Instead, drivers can receive a bonus at the end of the financial year based on how much time they spent working between, say, 10pm and 6am.
Tan Chin Kwang
This article was first published on Sep 26, 2014.
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