Government to relook cab-fare structures

Government to relook cab-fare structures

SINGAPORE - In time to come, commuters may no longer have to grapple with the dizzying plethora of fares and rates offered by cabs.

The Government will soon study if and how current fare structures can be simplified and made more comparable across different taxi firms.

Speaking in Parliament yesterday, Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo announced that the Land Transport Authority will work with the Public Transport Council and taxi firms to look into making the schemes more straightforward.

The study will take into account "the impact on taxi drivers", and ultimately come up with one that "best serves commuters' interests," she added.

Ms Teo acknowledged that the current taxi fare structure is "complex and confusing for commuters".

There are close to 10 different flagdown fares, three different metered-fare structures, more than 10 kinds of surcharges, and eight types of phone-booking charges, according to a recent commentary in The Straits Times.

Responding to a question posed by Member of Parliament Liang Eng Hwa, Ms Teo explained that taxi fares were deregulated in 1998 so operators could set their own fares to be "more responsive to market conditions".

"The taxi-fare structure has evolved with different surcharges to better match taxi supply with demand, by giving incentives to taxi drivers to serve locations and time periods where demand is high," she said.

Ms Teo also noted that the recent proliferation of different fares for taxi types is dependent on the costs and rental rates of the individual car models.

Cab driver Shawn Shawket, 52, said that he would welcome a simplified fare structure.

"Sometimes, even I myself forget what I'm charging," said Mr Shawket, who has been driving for five years.

But he pointed out that the taxi-fare structures, if revised, should "meet the needs of cab drivers".

For businessman Luke Chan, 30, who takes the cab at least once a week, simpler taxi-fare structures also spell good news.

"I usually try not to take the expensive-looking taxis because they probably cost more. But, sometimes, it's hard to tell," he said.

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