KUALA LUMPUR - The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) says it is already working to improve taxi services in the country, its chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar said.
Commenting on information posted on British taxi comparison site LondonCabs.co.uk that put Malaysia at the top of the list of countries with the worst taxi drivers, Syed Hamid said it merely confirmed what SPAD and other Malaysians knew all along.
The list, which did not cite any study or survey, said drivers from Kuala Lumpur were well known for overcharging clients and detouring.
"Even though they are supposed to charge by the meter, many drivers refuse from doing so. Cars in Kuala Lumpur can often be rather old and in poor condition," added the site that also panned Rome, Bangkok, Paris, New York, Mumbai, Zurich, Cairo, Shanghai and Moscow.
Syed Hamid said the problem was with half of the 42,000 or so taxi permit holders in the country.
"About half of them are individual permit holders, and it is this segment that often say they have difficulties upgrading their vehicles," he said.
SPAD said the industry needed to upskill its workers and invest in new vehicles to address service quality issues.
The commission's most well-known initiative was introducing the Proton Exora as the de facto ride for TEKS1M, or Teksi 1Malaysia, which promises more space for baggage and passengers, dedicated air-conditioning vents for passengers, leather seats, credit card readers for cashless transactions, factory-fitted natural gas tanks, GPS-based dispatch system as well as safety features such as passenger airbags.
Last month, a company called TrupCo started training and coaching TEKS1M drivers in collaboration with SPAD.
SPAD has also softened its stance on insisting that only the Proton Exora be used for TEKS1M.
"We are now open to other vehicles, provided they are Malaysian-made," said Syed Hamid.
SPAD is keen to see more than 1,500 TEKS1M on the roads by year's end, with industry sources hinting that Toyota and Nissan were in the running to supply MPVs that could meet the commission's requirements.