We are first world, run by the best super talents money can buy. Don’t ever associate this top notch country with the third world. With all the restructuring of taxi fares, controls and regulations, and use of GPS and satellites, our taxi woes must be a thing of the past. What I read in the ST on Saturday morning was quite an eye opener.
Here is a short summary of the points raised and the four causes of taxi woes in our first world country. Plenty of taxis but under utilised because some work on one shift with one operator per taxi. Some earn enough would call it a day. Not all 27,000 taxis will be on the road all the time. So, you know the problems right, what are you going to do about it? Why pay millions to people who tell you the problem and that is the end of the story? What we need is solution.
Unfortunately the solution is the problem itself. Pay higher for bookings. This was a brilliant solution. Now all the enterprising taxi drivers would want to wait for call bookings rather than pick up passengers. And plenty of brilliant suggestions to make this solution turned problem a solution again. Increase the charge for call bookings. I have a betterer idea which I will volunteer later.
A narrow window for shift change over because all the drivers want to participate in driving at peak hours. So the peak hour solution also becomes a problem in its own right. Drivers play hide and seek at non peak hours and not picking passengers just before peak hours come into play.
Call bookings got through but no cabs around. This is expected in such a big city like Singapore where one can drive a sports car into the sea within 10 mins of non stop acceleration. With GPS and satellites and modern communication, cannot find a cab near the caller? How far can a cab be from a caller in this 700 sq km piece of rock? Anyway it is a genuine problem and no one has a solution for it. It is just like that lah, what to do?
There is no solution but problems. Everyone can tell you the problems but not the solutions. The best they could do was to throw in solutions to become problems tomorrow. That I also know. I can offer this kind of solutions for free. But solutions there are plenty from the public. Make calls more expensive. Make flag down charge more expensive. Some even suggested that the caller makes a higher offer if he needs a cab urgently and sure, all the cab drivers will be rushing to his doorstep.
Taxis cost much because the passengers are paying for convenience. Now getting a taxi, paying more, is causing more trouble to the passengers. Waiting for 30 minutes is a norm. Now I must praise Lui Tuck Yew for 3 minutes wait for trains even at peak hours. Why so silly, pay $20 to $50 and wait like crazy on the road side for a taxi that takes 30 minutes to arrive? Taking a train one will be at the destination long before that.
Now my unbeatable solution formulated from all the above suggestions. In the first place people don’t mind paying more for convenience. What is the most efficient system then? Outcry, like in the old stock market. Just shout out the fare, $100 to the airport. The passenger just make a call offering how much he wants to pay for his trip and where he is. That is all he needs to do and let the taxi operators broadcast to the drivers. Not only the taxis will rush to him super fast, there will be more than 10 taxis coming to serve him depending on how high is his offer. Now who can beat this superb solution?
Pay for service and the service will go to the highest bidder. Now a warning, the roads will be turned into a F1 racing track and taxis will be zooming all over the island to make their catch. No more long waiting time. : ) As for the losers who cannot afford to raise the bid, continue queuing at the taxi stands and hope a taxi will turn up. You need to pay for good service!
PS. I think the more meritocratic cab users are already putting this into practice by calling the operator and offering to pay another $50 above the meter fare. Sure he will get his cab ahead of everyone else. Could this be another cause to the problem of difficulties in getting a cab even on call bookings?