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Tuesday, December 25, 2007
SG Huh Part 2: What's rarer than a winning gold medal from a Singapore-born sportsman?

A taxi that's willing to pick you up and send you to your desired destination. That's what.

The second thing that most of my friends told me was the increased difficulty in finding a taxi, at all hours. This was told to me before the December 17 price hike. When we were back in May, we found it was a bit challenging, but not to the point where they became rare!

One of the first few days back, i brought my mother to a sinseh (Chinese Doctor) for some treatment. We tried to take a cab near our apartment, but took over 45 minutes to get one. We were lucky because the cab actually stopped right in front of us to let someone else get off the cab. The cab driver was kinda "proud" to say that "yeah... we are very busy these days".

A few of my friends actually told me very similar stories, that it would be impossible to take a cab unless it stopped right in front of you.

A good buddy said that there is probably 30,000+ taxis in Singapore, but yet the demand/supply situation seemed to be so unbalanced. Furthermore, the bad practice of cab drivers choosing who/where to pick up customers made it worse.

Recently, there was a clampdown on the bad taxis who were demanding $20-50 from touristy locations. And i thought taxi touting is totally banned in Singapore and only happens in other countries! This buddy of mine said that the first outcome from the raid was a joint boycott of taxis to avoid the main touristy locations for a few nights.

A general observation throughout my stay, i noticed that people were queuing and waiting for cabs. This was probably worsened because of the holiday shopping season.

Then came the Dec 17th hike. Which in itself is an amazing thing.

Imagine this. You have a bunch of "workers" that do not feel like working the way they should, choose when to work, choose who to work for. Instead of penalizing them or retraining them, you actually reward them with such a highly convoluted fare structure that i'm sure some miscreant drivers will take the opportunity to con the passengers even more.

The way the fare hike was messaged in the mass media is uniquely Singapore. It was for the benefits of passengers. I guess having to pay up to 120% more is a benefit that i can live without.

On the last few days before i came back, i noticed a total reversal in the taxi situation. Taxis were piling up on the queues waiting for passengers, and throughout the main shopping routes, that was the same. Lovely. How does that benefit passengers (or the drivers)?

posted by Jonathan at 4:47 AM | Permalink |