In today's Straits Times, there were two interesting news articles on taxi matters. The first article is a letter to ST forum on affordability of London cabs and the last is about a mobile application to help commuters find taxis faster. This old "fart" would like to add a few more words on them.
|30 free London cabs for SMRT
A. London Cab Affordability.
Yes, taking the new SMRT's London cab is not going to be cheap on all counts, especially for the wheelchair-bound commuters. Standard booking fee for the London cab is $10 or $18 for advance booking. Compared to booking fees of a normal taxi, it's 67% and 72% more expensive respectively. Sadly, some wheelchair-bound commuters can only take this London cab because it has higher ceiling to accommodate their bigger wheelchair. In addition, only through call booking they can get a London cab because they cannot be waiting along the road hoping to flag a London cab out of a miserable 30 available in Singapore.
The plights of the wheelchair-bound commuters were prominently reported in the local media and I did two postings on this matter too. (Link 1)and (Link 2)
In summary, I hope our ex-Rear Admiral, Mr. Lui Tuck Yew and his comrades in PAP would consider the following earnest requests for aids by the handicapped commuters sympathetically.
1. Make London cabs more affordable by mandating SMRT to lower their fares, since Mr. Lui specially provided them with a grant of $3.1 millions from taxpayer's money to manage the 30 London cabs. SMRT should not be too greedy for profit with this type of cab used mainly by handicapped commuters. Perhaps, Ms. Ho Ching can lend a helping hand on this matter.
2. Provide London cab discount vouchers through MCD for handicapped commuters.
3. With aging population, increase grant to SMRT or others to get more London cabs to run on the roads.
4. Mandate all taxi operators to have a small percentage of London cabs in their fleet to service the handicapped community.
|Be Merciful. Give a Helping Hand.
B. Mobile Application to help find a cab.
Yes, the A*Star invention will certainly help cabbies and taxi commuters "match-up" perfectly but the proof of the pudding is in its eating.
Mr. Christopher Tan is spot-on to say that taxi companies are not too thrilled by the prospect of a scheme that bypasses their own dispatch system.
Imagine Comfort's enormous lost in revenue from call bookings if this new mobile application is astronomically successful. Comfort charges $3.30 per booking and does about 20 million booking per year. (pardon me if figure is not perfect). $36 millions goes to cabbies and $10 millions to Comfort. A cabby earns about $200 per month from call booking on the average, while Comfort gets about $84,000 per month or $10 million a year.. I'm not too worried because I don't do much call booking.
Now, do you know that Comfort makes millions from NETS payment?. They charge an "administrative fee" of 30 cents per NETS transaction and does an average of about 20 millions NETS transactions a year. Therefore, they make a gross profit of about $6.6 millions a year just from NETS transactions. A cabby gets nothing,
A few more millions comes from their arbitrary and hefty10% surcharge on credit & debit payments. But cabbies not only gets no monetary benefits whatsoever from these "cashless" payments, they had to wait two or three days for these "credit-fares" to be credited to their bank accounts. Therefore, understandably, cabbies prefer cash payment. Like many other "deals" with Comfort, cabbies always get the shot end of the stick.
As you call see, taxi operators and their system associates make millions from fringe services like Nets & credit/debit card payments, call bookings and advertisements on cabs, among others. So, it's not surprising that they would always try to muster as large a fleet of taxis as possible, with scant concern for cabbies survival.
Now, coming back to the mobile app, perhaps A*Star could invent something along the same principle of the mobile app to "match-up" many of the singles in Singapore to get married and produce more babies, so that we do not have to import so many foreigners to popup our population.