I’ve been having conversations with taxi drivers over the past few weeks, usually over things like how the taxi business is run and the new price hikes which kick in this coming Monday.
Most of the taxi drivers I’ve met used to be in another field and flunked out of them for various reasons. None of them really like the taxi trade but they don’t seem to have a choice. Either age or tiredness prevent them from rebooting their careers. Fear keeps them from revolting against the system.
But one thing is clear – everyone wants taxi rentals to be reduced. I’ve been calling for that (in my head at least) ever since I started work and kept getting into taxi conversations.
On average, these drivers have to make about 8-12 trips a day to cover the daily rental fees (about $90-$100), and what you get are taxi drivers who ply the road bleary-eyed on 12 or 14-hour shifts. And you wonder why taxi drivers keep getting into accidents (apart from the lousy drivers lah).
We keep hearing plenty of justification from the Gahmen or taxi operators on why they can’t seem to fix the taxi problem in Singapore. I stopped listening a long time ago.
The reality is that they don’t really understand the bigger consequence – yes, the people here are docile enough to accept or be resigned to what is imposed upon them, but it reduces the country in the eyes of the rest of the world who come by to do business here.
Can’t get a cab in town on Friday nights? It’s ridiculous you know, when you can’t even get to the taxi call centre after 20 min.
We have to stop comparing our taxi rates with the rest of the world. A country’s reputation is measured by its real-world efficiency, not how it stacks up in terms of quantitative data. Who cares if our kids are top in spelling or maths? That doesn’t count for much when they get into the working world where we need people to be articulate and emphatic, not robotic bean counters.
Our taxi drivers aren’t a happy lot – they know their operators earn so much money, and it’s them who have to slog day in day out, risk their lives and health to keep the coffers at HQ overflowing.
To anyone who thinks our public transport system is great, go fly a kite ok? When I was in NTU, I spent 90 min just to get from Bishan to Jalan Bahar. In a straight line, that’s less than 30km. That’s inhumane. The sheer lack of competition or forward-looking vision in the transport system has made getting to work such a miserable experience.
I try not to take buses because I might just rot waiting for them. I was driving for the past few years, but it’s back to the SMRT and I cannot believe the length of time I have to wait during non-peak hours.
You know, Gahmen, few people in Singapore really cares how you justify your case on so many things anymore. We’re designed to be a pragmatic lot, thanks to your divisive education system, so what we want to see are results, and walking the talk. Transport in Singapore is usable, but it falls far short of what a tiny country is capable of demonstrating.
Don’t forget your taxi drivers are human at the end of the day. There’s only so much crap they can take.