I hope that instead of a knee-jerk reaction to protect the status quo, both taxi companies and the Government can see the introduction of Uber here as an opportunity to improve the public transport network ("Uber sets up car rental firm in S'pore to recruit drivers"; last Friday, and "Cabbies cry foul over rival drivers"; last Saturday).
The prohibitively high cost of car ownership in Singapore means that many of us rely heavily on public transport, including taxis.
However, the current taxi services leave much to be desired.
Often, there are plenty of taxis - when you don't need them.
In times of foul weather, or when you are in a remote area, taxis are hard to find, even if you call for one.
Taxi fares should also be cheaper, given that this is an essential service.
But companies are driven by profit, and when they are in a dominant market position, there is no incentive for them to improve service or lower fares.
Only more competition, with out-of-the-box thinking, can achieve this.
Hopefully, taxi companies can take a leaf out of the newcomer's book, and reflect on where they can innovate and improve.
Government regulations to ensure passenger safety are paramount, but that is no excuse to curb a potentially healthy and encouraging development.
This is a great opportunity to take a hard look at the current market, and provide Singaporeans and people coming here with a better public transport system.
Edgar Ji Wei
This article was first published on June 04, 2015.
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