The move to simplify taxi fares is a good first step, but more needs to be done to improve the service ("Cab fare review unlikely to help much"; yesterday).
Here's what many commuters would like to see:
A standard rate for flag-down and meter fares. The different costs to purchase and maintain different models of vehicles are part of operating costs, which operators will have to take into consideration in their business calculations. These costs should not determine fare rates.
Premium taxis should be reserved as a premium service. They should be available only for booking, with a justifiable surcharge.
If such taxis want to enter "regular" service, the flag-down and meter fares should be the same as all other taxis. Whether this will be profitable or not is a business decision of the operator and driver.
If such a service has to be scaled down, so be it. But in a thriving commercial centre like Singapore, there will always be a demand for a premium sector in the service industry (just like business-class air travel).
Surcharges should be kept to a minimum, for example, for advance bookings, premium service and specific locations, such as the airport.
Taxis should be easily available when needed, especially during peak hours, whether at cab stands or through phone or app bookings.
Taxis should not have to cruise around for business, so that fuel use, costs, exhaustion of drivers and road congestion can be reduced.
The Land Transport Authority and the Public Transport Council will have to consider all the implications of these suggestions, and rationalise the various financial and regulatory requirements, to ensure commuters get a satisfying service, and taxi drivers a meaningful livelihood.
This article was first published on April 2, 2015.
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