Sunday, November 18

Give the taxi drivers a break

Taxi drivers are supposed to move people from one point to another point, in the shortest possible time. Bringing a smile to the passenger, though encouraged by the parent company, are not the driver's key performance indicators. It is at least comforting to know that most cabbies are either friendly or shut their mouth to give you the peace you are looking for after a long night at work/pub.

We can't always blame the taxi drivers. These guys work long hours, up to 7 days a week, no 14 days annual leaves, and get penalised for going on MC or vacation(they still have to pay daily cab rents).

Try driving continuously for at least 8 hours, its taxing to the spirit compared to an office worker typing on his desk. The office worker can fall asleep anytime at his desk, so long as his boss is not around. But a driver can't fall asleep, his concentration is of immense importance for the safety of both himself and his customer.

Singapore's taxi fares are fairly cheap, compared to Hong Kong and other developed countries. Take a $20 taxi fare, and if shared by 4 customers, equate to $5/person. Just a few meagre dollars more than the bus/MRT. When I took my first (and last) taxi in Hong Kong, my jaws really dropped. Can't recall if the bill was S$40 or S$60 for a 30-45 minute trip. Glad the company was paying for it.

Taxi business is a cycle of daily peaks and lulls. Which explains why cabs are never there when you need it. You need a cab after your bulk shopping at Ikea/Carrefour, but so does many others who do not own a car. And when you do not need cabs, like weekday office hours, so are the many others - everyone is stuck at work.

If you can complain for the lack of taxis during peak hours, surely they can complain for the lack of passengers during lull hours.

If taxi drivers can get grumpy passengers, then its only "fair" that we get grumpy cab drivers. Yes, you can argue that you are entitled to good service for what you have paid. But at least these guys don't charge you extra service tax. I'm sure you have been to restaurants with really lousy service, and yet charge you that extra 10%.

Its easy to fault them for being greedy, acting like a cartel to hide their taxis near midnight. Or to hang around the roads, acting busy while waiting for bookings. I don't blame them, I blame the booking systems. And us.

It is us who make bookings because we do not want to join the long queues. There is never one party who is at complete fault.

Only those who have not sinned have the right to step up and hurl the stones at those who have err. Finger pointing is not a solution - it is just a means to vent frustration.

My suggestion is to dollow what some countries are doing.
Bookings should be a free service to help cab drivers locate customers easier, and for us to get cabs easier. But do away with booking fees, because those with money should not be entitled to better treatment (though that always happens in real-life). Treat everyone equal, and yes, increase the cab fares please.

About the Author: Shingo T thinks all taxi passengers should play "Crazy Taxi" on Playstation, to understand the woes of taxi drivers - maximising income while subjected to a limited timeframe.

No comments:

Facebook "Like" Button