The taxi situation is highly ironic right now. A few days ago, The Straits Times featured an article about certain taxi drivers resorting to having put up signboards to attract passengers. The signboards mostly says that the drivers will not be imposing the 35% surcharge during peak hours.
Comfort has also said that if their drivers choose to do so, they have no control over them. In short, comfort allows their taxi drivers to decide whether to impose the surcharge.
Today, LTA has said that it is illegal to give such discounts (for more information, read Simply Jean’s post), because it would mean soliciting and soliciting is illegal.
I say the situation is ironic because the increase in price is supposed to help offset the increase cost of diesel , and solve the taxi shortage problem. Not only is the taxi shortage problem not solved, taxi drivers are hoping that they can give discounts to get more passengers!
I do not understand why you have to increase the peak hour surcharge. It is currently at 35% of metered fare. I have always thought that the problem is taxi drivers refusing to pick passengers without a call booking? And that there is no actual shortage during the peak hour? Then why increase the surcharge for peak hour?
What the taxi company should do to combat the many problems is to take some effort in educating their taxi drivers. Perhaps they should change their company policy to discourage taxi drivers for waiting for call bookings only.
I have an idea. Why don’t they make the cost of flagging a taxi down and for call booking the same? What I mean is this:
The current price for flag down is 2.80 for the 1st km.
Call booking is 3.50 for prime time and 2.50 for non prime time. (What the hell is the difference between prime time and peak hour?)
Change it to this:
Flag down: $2.80 for 1st km
Call booking: $2.80 for the cabbie + $1.00 admin surcharge payable to Comfort by cabbie
To the cabbie, both are the same. They only earn $2.80. Thus there is no incentive to wait for call bookings anymore. Furthermore, since call booking is a premium service, Comfort will earn the $1.00 for every call booking they have. Passengers who opt for call booking also pays $1.00 more.
It makes no sense for cabbies to earn more for a call booking. Call booking actually makes their life easier and increase chances of earning money. It takes no more effort to attend to a call booking than to a flag down passenger. Perhaps it is only the waiting time if the call booking passenger is late? Then impose a late surcharge.
After all, Comfort boasts of its location tracking system. I am sure that Comfort can check if a taxi has been waiting stationary for more than 5 or 10 minutes.
The solution to many things is not money. Money doesn’t solve everything. Perhaps we as a country should change our mentality towards money. So policy makers out there, do not keep thinking about money when you want to solve demand supply issues. There are other methods. Study economics.