Saturday 7 December 2013

Only Government Decision can Change the Taxi Model here.

Taxi Drivers Strike in S.Korea

I told my wife: ” Honey, I am very sorry to tell you that you are married to a prostitute”. 

She stared at me with her mouth wide open and said: ” Honey, what do you mean? Are you bisexual? Are you having sex with men too”?.

I replied  "No. I am neither bisexual nor I've ever had sex with males. By saying I am a prostitute, I meant that I am a taxi driver. A taxi driver in Singapore is nothing but a prostitute. Think of it. We have this blood-sucking government agency called LTA in our back, day in and day out, busy summonsing cab drivers to their offices,  pulling their pants down and verbally screwing them. Then we have the blood thirsty taxi operators that don’t bother fixing the cabs properly like changing worn-out tyres and removing ABS air-bags and as a result cab drivers end up having accidents and dying. Then you have the traffic cops giving you questionable tickets for picking or dropping in a bus lanes. To top it all is having to deal with all those mentally sick, drunken ang-moh and fare beaters. Like prostitutes, we have to service our customers without questions once they land their buttocks on our seats. Who is around to protect us and hear our complaints".

"Having to go through all these if it is not a prostitution what would you name a cab driving profession here in Singapore? A professional road pilot?. But, thankfully no other job would give an old man like me $25,000 a year. And thankfully again, 99% of my passengers are GOOD people. Thank you, Sir & Madam, from the bottom of my heart!. But, I have lost my self respect and dignity for that f...king $25,0000 per year."

After hearing all my bullshit, she gave me a light knock on my head and said "Quit if you can't take the heat or complain to your MP or NTA (National Taxi Association)".

I replied "Don't waste my time. All these people are bedding each other and "wayang" performers. Instead, we taxi drivers have to depend on ourselves for protection and swallow all the bitter pills of complaints with a pint of salt".

"Why can't you people unite, protest or strike? she asked innocently.

"What?, unite, protest or strike? We already "united" under NTA but the chief is an MP from the G. What good can you expect? Prepared to go to jail? Honestly, we have to blame ourselves. We are traitors and cowards. Yes, traitors are us, the cabbies. Cowards in ourselves. We’re too selfish to help a fellow cabby in trouble, and have all the time and effort to cut off a weak cabby and snatch his fare from under his/her nose. We have no time to unite and are cowards to fight for our basic human rights. Yes, we are the cowards, the worst ones. Like hungry wild dogs who kill and eat up their own weak brother, but run away when a wolf shows up. Shame on us."

"Do you know that 200,000 taxi drivers went on strike in South Korea in June this year? she asked like she knows everything.

"Of course, I know. I know more than you, ok? I know they went on strike when their G refused to pass a bill to subsides taxi drivers when fuel cost rocketed, among other things".

"I also know taxi drivers there want their industry to be considered a public transportation, the same way that buses and trains are. Classifying taxis as part of the country's mass transportation system would mean that taxi drivers can get state subsidies on fuel, tax and other benefits just like bus and train operators. 

But their G rejected their appeals saying that public transportation refers to mass transportation operating along specific routes and fixed timetables, so taxis cannot be included in this category. But, in S.Korea, taxis ferry 11 million people in one day, while buses ferry 13 millions. Only a small difference. This shows that a lot of people in S.Korea use taxis because fares are so cheap. Anyway, Korean go on strikes like having birthday parties for every buddies in the block every other weeks. But here, we go to jail the moment three or four people hold "Anti-G" banners or wear T-shirts with words like "Kangaroo Courts". 

Ough! My wife had fallen asleep before I could bombard her with more of my b.s.

So, allow this old querulous taxi driver to continue with more rhetoric here.

Presently, all players in the taxi game are unhappy with the taxi model here.

- Taxi commuters are unhappy with sporadic fare increases, complex fare structures and surcharges, difficulties in getting a cab, poor customer service, etc.
- Taxi operators are facing difficulties in maintaining their bottom line with increasing operating costs, higher COE,  hirer issues, meeting regulatory standards, etc.
- Taxi drivers are forever grouching on their hardship in earning a decent income with increasing competition on the road with more taxis, increase running costs and taxi rental, no protection or social safety nets whatsoever, etc.

All these grievances and issues are interlinked and nobody is able to devise a system to satisfy all the different needs which has no obvious pattern.. Sadly, this sorrowful situation had been going on for the last 28 years since taxi industry was deregulated in 1985. Like Mr Han Fook Kwang (Managing Editor of ST) said, "no transport minister had the appetite to intervene in these issues". But rightly, our transport minister ought to take the lead to set the RIGHT PRICE and proceed from there. Allowing the "monopolistic" COMFORT to set taxi fares is essentially wrong, for obvious reasons. All the woes in the taxi industry requires decisions that ONLY the G can make. 

Most importantly, before our G goes about tackling the complex issues in a fundamental way like setting the right price, they must first of all remove or reduce all the taxes and revenues derive from the taxi transportation industry, like ERP charges, COE, road taxes, fuel taxes and what have you taxes.

Essentially, our G should subsides taxi transportation like buses and trains. If this is done, everything else will fall beautifully into place. Taxi commuters will enjoy lower fare with lots of taxis plying the road. Taxi driver will also enjoy lower rental, fuel cost, more passengers and additional monetary incentives for picking more fares per shift. Taxi operators will have lower operating costs, less un-hired cabs in garages and lower hirer turnover. Everybody is happy!

Is it that simple?. Am I dreaming?


Gintai_昇泰 said...

Whatever you suggested here are merely a wish list for the coming Christmas. It's only a pipe dream. Get this fact clear - this government is no Santa Clause. In most countries including our immediate neigbours, fuel is heavily subsidized to the tune of billions per yr. Here, we are not asking for any subsidy or free handouts. We are sensible people. Instead, they tax us for every liter of fuel. It's a case of the more you pump, the more taxes they collect. Whereas in other neighboring countries, the more you pump, the more the governments there lose more money thru fuel subsidy. If our government insist to tax heavily on local fuel consumption, common sense will tell you that it will drive up business costs and inflation simply becuz everything boils down to fuel! Do they care or have any compassion despite the obvious logic? Nop. They only care for raking in more money, revenue and profits to pay for their super high salary and bonuses. Once addicted, it's quite difficult to change. Just like your addiction to nicotine. Hard to give up right?

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Gintai,

I love your comments. Yes, they are merciless in raping their own folks through all kind of taxes. But when it come to taxes on MNC, they tax them the lowest in the world. That's why GM move their HQ from Shanghai to here. Yes, more jobs are created but only to be filled by FT. I think the worst is that COE thing. On the pretext to control car population, they print a piece of paper to generate billions in revenue. What's wrong in making money the easy way? LKY said. This blood sucking G needs to be voted out! period.

Anonymous said...

James you are not a dreamer but a suicidal guy,you want government to give you subsidized fuel just imagine it is the same way as you get subsidized medicine from polyclinic I can buy my diabetic medicine cheaper paying full price across the bridge than subsidized poly ones. here are some good suggestions that might lower the running costs of a To a cab company and as well as the main earner the taxi driver
1. since there is a fixed number of taxis on the road, government should either charge zero CEO, or perhaps a fix amount of lets say 20 to $ 25,000 with condition of taxi scrapped within five years will bring the initial investment of taxi operator and not to mention the maintenance costs down which in turn brings down the daily rental for the Driver.
2. Bring up the flag down rate and also the running rate and scrap all those surcharges to make the fair simple and straightforward as further incentive for night shift meaning after 12 AM the flag down rate can be changed to a high amount.
3. The code of conduct should be strictly enforced by LTA and not by the taxi companies is LTA is the license issuing authority not taxi operators.
4. Just like bus captains they should be stricter law implemented to protect the physical and verbal abuse of a cab driver, at least in audio recorder should be allowed to be installed in the cabin so one can find out what happened in reality at most like other countries and our buses the cab driver should be allowed to install a in-cabin Camera to record and presented as an evidence in case of mishaps both physical or verbal.
then again this will never happen my because the major shareholders in most of the taxi operators are politicians themselves and they don't want anybody eating into their profits henceforth like a slave labor on

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Anon,

Thanks for your comments. All your suggestions are implementable if only the G has the will to do it for the benefits of all, except themselves. Cheers!

old bread said...

No need to be so difficult. Simi subsidies
Just freeze taxi rental for 10 years

Anonymous said...

I think we r worse than prostitube,why because pros still can reject customers if they dun like them but we have to take all sort.of ppl or else we will b punished by LTA n our company

Anonymous said...

blood sucking taxi coys... all the same.. watever rental they put up.. taxi drivers will rent.. cos many duno wat to do other then drive.. all for themselves.. u dun drive dun pick fares.. they will.. all cowards.. not united.. not like old days taxi drivers.. no drivers will overtake another on a long straight road.. its like Queuing while driving on the road.. now, u slow abit.. 20 drive and chiong passed u for the pax infront.. or even can cut in 3 lanes... this suxxx..

Anonymous said...

I believe the ttaxi companies need not pay COE for their vehicles anymore, correct me if I am wrong and this act alone bring them to a whole new level.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

An Anonymose commented under
"Blood-thirsty taxi operators":
December 10, 2013 at 12:37 am (Quote)

Why is the Transport Minister or LTA allowing the blood-thirsty taxi operators to charge horrendous rents like $120 or more a day.

To cover the rent and petrol, the poor taxi drivers have to drive at least 6 hours to break even, meaning that the taxi drivers need to drive another 4 hours to make some money, totalling 10 hours on the road – can the Transport Minister do it every day of the month???

Why is the Transport Minister or LTA allowing this unfair and unsafe practice for taxi drivers.

The day rent of a taxi should not be more than 4 hours of takings, driving on the road.

WeNeed1ObamaHere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WeNeed1ObamaHere said...

I am a cab driver myself struggling with the higher and higher rentals.

To reduce unproductive time, I packet my meals and eat and pee on the roadside or carparks.

Sometimes, when the weather is warm,my packet of mix-veg rice, turns sour after 3 hours in the boot. I still swallowed it down like bitter medicine.

Now I truly understand what does it feel like to be like a stray dog or a stray cat. That's why I always share a little of my food with these little friends. They keep me company when I am eating miserably alone by the carpark, and their cuteness helped cheer me up a bit and help me to forget temporary my hatred for this evil PAP regime.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, WeNeed1ObamaHere,

Sad to read that you had to eat at roadside and carpark. If majority of TD does that, this is in big shit. My sympathy goes to you. Take care.

WeNeed1ObamaHere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WeNeed1ObamaHere said...

After reading your post, I have to agree. We are just "prostitutes", under the control of 2 pimps.

The Cab company is PIMP #1, the LTA is PIMP#2.

Imagine a prostitute who has to rent a hotel room from her pimp #1. Pimp#2 gave her a licence to her profession. She also has to pay out of her own pockets for the utilities used by her clients.

And she has to sell her service based on a "prostitute-meter", charges designed by Pimp#1 with the approval of pimp#2.

Surcharges are applicable if customer wants "special".

Pimp#1 cam "suka-suka" raise her room rental charges. Pimp#2 can anyhow impose taxes on her earnings.

If the pimps think the demand for her services are becoming more, and she started to earn more, they would be afraid that she would not want to service too many clients anymore. So they take away some of her money. That way, she will always be hungry and in their control to service many clients everyday.

If the bed or showers becomes faulty, Pimp#1 just waived her room charge "pro-rated to the hours and minute". Her income loss is not being compensated.

Ocassionally, some clients left wihout paying, some beat her up and rob her money. But she has to bear the losses on her own. The pimp#1 still collects her room charge, and pimp#2 still collect taxes.

Tell me how I am wrong to make such a comparison.

St Petersburg, FL taxi said...

the plight of cab drivers is limited to certain areas of the world, where governments refuse to acknowledge needs and rights of taxi drivers.
Sadly, seems to me that Singapore and Florida are part of this world

WeNeed1ObamaHere said...

Here in Singapore, the regime tells the public that taxis are "public transport". But behind the scene, their have policies that subject cab drivers to private business contracts with the cab companies. So the authorities here didn't care about how the cab companies are screwing the drivers.

Like I said, its like the 2 PIMPS are in bed with each other.

One interested in pure profits, the other interested in tax revenues and pandering to the public for political expedience.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr Lim,
I am a student journalist from Temasek Polytechnnic. I wouuld like too seek your permission to use your quotes for my article of taxi drivers. Rest assured I will not share it publicly, but its is only for my and the teacher's eyes.
Thank you and God Bless :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr Lim,
I am a student journalist from Temasek Polytechnnic. I wouuld like too seek your permission to use your quotes for my article of taxi drivers. Rest assured I will not share it publicly, but its is only for my and the teacher's eyes.
Thank you and God Bless :)

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, Nicole,

It's very thoughtful of you to seek my permission to quote my comments in my blog for your work as a student. No journalist would do that in real life and neither do I, hahaha!.

So, so ahead, quote whatever you want and let the whole world see, if you like.

Wish you all the best in whatever you become in the working world. Bye and Take Care!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Lim
The important thing is not to take it out on your passengers. I am partly disabled and rely on taxis when I am in Singapore. Most are OK but some take the long route bump up the fare.

Xianlong said...

You are right that only govt can change the model.

Tragic thing is too many dumb & balless folks keeping voting pap.

Pay And Pay being in power for far long hence allowing it time to mutate into a bloodsucking entity.

Taxi economics are a result of politics.

Anonymous said...

Taxi-drivers and taxi-operators are both "rent seekers" - they have a right to charge for something that no one else can compete for. In a true free economy, anyone with a car and/or a driving license would be able to charge anyone else for a ride. Of course, regulating fares, testing and licensing both cars and drivers etc offers benefits to the consumer.

First let's look at taxi operators: they can't be easily fought by you or me given the capital and regulatory barriers. So they enjoy an oligopoly. Oligopolies and monopolies are always bad. The government needs to ensure they don't fleece consumers. It's tough and it is not being done very well. What's worse, as with trains and buses , this is perpetuating above-normal profits for private management and shareholders of a utility-like service.

As for drivers, there are too many licensed ones which means the balance is in the favor of the operators. Simple game theory. Next, regardless of whether the taxi operators are private or quasi-nationalized, just as they owe society for having granted them a "right" (to run a business), so do drivers. They have a license granting them the right to drive people and anytime they refuse to take a fare or otherwise fail to discharge the duties that come with that right, their license should be revoked.

Hopefully this clears why taxis are not normal cars and why they could be exempt from COEs. But then both drivers and operators must accept the (even greater) responsibilities to society, that outweighs profits.

This realization would be the first step in correcting the mistakes of deregulating public transportation.

WeNeed1ObamaHere said...

Cab drivers are merely "prostitutes" working under the control of pimps - PAP and Cab companies.

I used to earn $140 a day (after all cost deducted) , fetching 30 trips. This works out to be about $4.70 for each trip. Now with the increase in rent, I can only average about $90. So now, for each trip I earn average of $3.

So who has taken away some of my income?

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

I agreed with WeNeed1ObamaHere.
James Lim

Anonymous said...

Dont gripe, it serves no purpose. Find a way to beat the system. I personally know CDG & SMRT drivers clocking comfortably $170-220 net daily.

WeNeed1ObamaHere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WeNeed1ObamaHere said...

$170-$220 DAILY ? Given the current high rents of 120-130+ per day ??

How old are you kid ?
Did you ask them how many hours they work ? 15-16 hours non-stop excluding meal time and toilet breaks and rest time every day?

You think its possible that a human being can work 15-16 x365 hours non stop a year ?

You will never fall sick, or need to attend to some personal or family matters ? No need to send car for servicing, go top up diesel, wash cars??

I bet you also bought into the lies of that $7K monthly income driver right ?

The fact is many cab drivers tends to "blow canon" (ie. Lie) about how much they earn a month. They did it because they know cab drivers are considered a low class job. So by talking big about how much they earn give them some face savings in front of their wives and friends. Some cab driver boasts to their china girl friends they earn $5-6K a month, fearing their girl friends might leave them if they know they only earn $2-3 K in reality.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

This "Link" gives an almost accurate account of how much a TD earns a day based on the number of hours he drives:

WeNeed1ObamaHere said...

Anonymous said...
Taxi-drivers and taxi-operators are both "rent seekers" . In a true free economy, anyone with a car and/or a driving license would be able to charge anyone else for a ride. Of course, regulating fares, testing and licensing both cars and drivers etc offers benefits to the consumer...... They have a license granting them the right to drive people and anytime they refuse to take a fare or otherwise fail to discharge the duties that come with that right, their license should be revoked.
26 January 2014 17:29

Your analysis would have been right if Cab drivers body (such as the NTA) has the liberty and legal right to set fares according to the market conditions and relative to the cab driver's operating cost. As things stands now, cab drivers provides a service but prices are set by cab companies. The cab companies do not get their revenue by how much sales a cab drivers generate throughout the day. Therefore, they have NO direct interest in whether the fares they set is fair to the driver or not. Furthermore, the Government must have instructed them (in my own opinion) to keep the fares as low as possible for POLITICAL reasons that has nothing to do with "free market" demand and supply or how much a consumer is willing to pay.

In a free market and a fair society, cab drivers Union would have organized a strike to force a negotiation with the companies to either adjust their fares or reduce rents. That's why in US or European countries and even in HK, cab services are better because cab drivers are "agreeable" to the value of the services they provide. Here in Singapore, a cab driver has to resort to pick and choose, because some routes are just not economically viable and even loss-making.
Ask yourself, would you do a sale or provide a service to your customer at a loss ?? Answer this question honestly and you will understand why cab drivers behave they way they do.

The other option is to let NTA be the deciding body on the cab fares relative to the operating cost (free from any POLITICAL intervention). Cab drivers should then vote to reach an "agreeable" selling price.

Right now, based on the latest high rents and inflation rates, I would say our services is at least $2-3 undervalue for each trip. The $0.70-80 increase at the start of each fare now is not even enough to offset the increase in operating cost.

But then again, why must fares goes up ??? As a business person, I am well aware that if prices goes up too much, it will hurt sales. So, why can't the rents go down. Afterall, the cab companies are still making huge profits even if rents remains the same. The CEOs and directors will still be taking huge bonuses even if its a few thousand less because of slightly higher overheads and operating cost. If cab services are "public transport" why should cab drivers by paying GST on the cab rental and fuel?? I would remind you that the cab fares (the selling price of our service to commuters) does not include the GST we pay the Govt which amounts to $10-12 every day. If we want to recover this GST from commuters, it would mean an additional charge of average $0.40 for each trip.

Given the increase in COE, if you do the math, the rent should at most increase by $15 only. Not $40-50.

Diary of a Singaorean Cabby said...

Hi, WeNeedOneObama,

You write well with smooth logic and reasoning. Welcome to the block and start a blog to voice our insightful woes.
Regards James Lim

WeNeed1ObamaHere said...

Thanks James. As do you too.

The one thing a cab driver has is, A LOT OF TIME, sitting in his taxi plying the roads. And when you have so much time sitting in the car and stopping at traffic lights, stucked in traffic jams or queuing at taxi stands. you do a lot of thinking..
And the more I think, the more I realized we TD have been screwed by the PAP for a long time. They have been exploiting us all these years to win elections. Only this became more and more obvious in he last 3-4 years.
All the unfair policies towards TD here would have been soundly rejected in other countries through strikes and protests. Here, because of the culture, everyone just suffer in silence.

In my first few years of driving, I spend the time reading the street directory and thinking about how and where to go to find passengers. But as you get more experienced, there is really is really nothing new. Everyday is the same as the day before. Same sh!t everyday.

Anonymous said...

Hi James,
You are so correct.
Taxi Operators do not care for the safety of drivers.
You don't rent their taxis, there are more outside waiting to rent.
Important issue they don't managed BUT want you to repair scratches at under carriage. Telling you that it will affect their fleet image.
OMG. Who looks at the under carriage ?????
Only the workshop !!!!!
Take another $500 from you to subsidy their bonus pay out….

Lowongan Kerja CPNS 2014 Terbaru said...

I hope all can be peace :)

Unknown said...

Unfortunately or fortunately, I happened to read your post of a millionaire Singaporean running a charity in Batam first before I read about your grouch about taxi driving in Singapore. I respect tremendously your blogs, which often lament the lack of compassion and apathy of our society. In this instance, however, I feel grouches towards our G is slightly uncalled for. For the start, it would be safe to say that with 7 billion humans on Earth, safe to say easily two thirds will be clamouring for our job. There's nothing prostitute-like of earning one if the world's highest income, in a air-conditioned environment, and the happiness of ferrying people to their daily chores. Perhaps, in our strata levelled or worse, caste-liked based society, taxi drivers are like prostitutes. Perhaps, in our heavily regulated and authoritarian society, taxi drivers felt persecuted. But, I assure you, these perceptions are uncalled for. There are much worse poverty, and much worse persecutions in this world, that makes me feel fortunate of our profession. BBC WORLD SERVICE 88.9. Cheeers...