I AM a taxi driver and I would like to raise a few points for the public to consider ("No 'disappearing act' by taxis" by Mr Raymond Ong Thiam Khoon, Sept 12; and "Track, punish cabbies who 'vanish' before peak hours" by Mr Matthew Ong Koon Lock, Tuesday).
It is lucrative for cabbies to ply the road at certain times and at certain places because of the many surcharges. If you were a taxi driver, would you:
Rest, take your meals, do your personal errands or change shifts during these lucrative periods?
Pick up passengers just outside the Central Business District, where there is no city area surcharge?
Ignore the calls that come in and forgo the booking fees, and pick up passengers on the street?
In countries like Japan, Germany, Australia and Britain, their basic fares are extremely high but there are hardly any surcharges.
Thus, there is no obvious "lucrative" time and place for cabbies to pick up passengers.
Singapore taxi fares are among the lowest in the world, if the cost of a taxi is taken into consideration.
In the countries I mentioned, car prices are about 25 per cent of prices here. However, their taxi fares are about three to five times our gross fares.
Even if whole-day surcharges were implemented islandwide, Singapore taxi fares would still be a bargain.
Obviously, the costly basic fares in these countries curb demand, but they are enough to lure cabbies to where there is business.
Our authorities can learn how to ensure taxi availability from these countries.
Letter from Wong Hing Kim
This article was first published on September 21, 2014.
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