Friday, November 03, 2006

Another Nosebleed

From Smoot

To Taxi Company

Subject: Taxis are hiding again

Dear Sirs

I tried to call your hotline at 6552 4522 both last night and this morning but without success. I work at Suntec City and it is a constant struggle to get a taxi every day, unless we leave the office before close of business. In contrast, when there was recent media coverage on the shortage of taxis and cab companies started to clamp down on taxis which refused to pick up customers, it became extremely easy to get a cab literally overnight.

I'm not sure what measures you have taken to get more taxis to pick up flag-down passengers but they do not seem to be effective at all. I have been attending the Entropolis conventions at Suntec City up till 10 pm every night this week and it is impossible to get a cab. I'm not talking about flag-downs here. Comfort cabs which were empty just drove past all the people around me who were trying to flag them down. I tried to call a cab at 6552 1111 and only managed to secure a cab after half an hour of trying.

The taxi queues at Suntec (Convention Centre, Suntec Towers 1, 2, 3, 4 and Millenia Towers) were all long queues with no cabs coming in to pick up any passengers. I walked up to an empty taxi (a blue comfort cab) that was parked outside Millenia Walk, with the taxi driver reading a newspaper and the lights on, both in the taxi as well as on top of the taxi, indicating that he was available to pick up passengers. He waved his hand at me to indicate that he was not taking any passengers, and then went back to his newspaper.

Last night, I tried calling for half an hour and was not successful. I managed to get a lift from a private car. Whilst waiting for the car, I took down the numbers of all the taxis which were empty, had no "On Call" signs and which refused to pick up passengers. As at 1 November 2006, 10.35 pm to 10.50 pm, these are: 1. SHA 8726L 2. SHA 2629Z 3. 6349A (Mercedes cab) 4. SH 8869R 5. SH__ 9087K 6. 7226U (a blue comfort cab) 7. 7268G (a blue comfort cab) 8. SHA 6516P 9. SHC 2895K 10. SHB 4346R 11. SHB 8662G 12. SHB 3197R

I also saw a very long line of taxis 'hiding' under the Sheares Bridge at Raffles Avenue with their lights partially off. They appeared to be waiting for calls.

This situation is intolerable.

I had just come from a very successful [ ___ ] Dinner with more than 100 overseas guests all of whom were stuck at the Marina Mandarin after the dinner unable to leave because there were simply no taxis willing to pick up passengers. What a memorable end to what was a very well-organised dinner function, which had been hosted by the EDB in its continuing efforts to bring more foreign investment into Singapore.

As an indication of how embarrassing the situation was, 1 cab finally picked up the first passenger in the queue after half an hour of waiting. No more cabs arrived after that. Please do something about this.
Dear Smoot

I refer to your email on November 02 with regard to the above-mentioned.

We view pick and choose behaviours by taxi drivers seriously.

Drivers are not allowed to reject any fares so long as the taxi is available for hire.

Cabbies who are en route to changing shift must display the “Shift Change” message on the rooftop display and to activate the “Busy” signage when attending to personal matters.

Please be assured we will take the appropriate disciplinary action against all the drivers and will firmly remind them to adhere to the service standards as set out by our company.

Your complaint will be filed into their service record and we will closely monitor their performance closely.

Meanwhile we will inform our Enforcement Team to step up checks along Suntec City area to weed out drivers who pick and choose.

Thank you once again for your valuable feedback.

Yours sincerely

Taxi Company


At 8:22 PM, Anonymous jl said...

*pat pat*

good for you! =D

Working at suntec too, but a widdle iddle paralegal like me no $$ to take cab. Heh heh.

At 8:31 PM, Blogger Indiana said...

I hope that response from the Taxi Company was a real one, because unlike another blogger we both know who has nothing but horror taxi stories, the only bad experience I have had is that when you are in a cab they all complain that there are too many on the road and so no money to be made, but then I (like you) can never get one when I want it.

At 11:54 PM, Blogger Slum (slave of a mum) said...

Good for you Smoot! The situation around Suntec/Millenia is truly intolerable. I know cos I head there for tap on Tuesdays and I see empty cabs after empty cabs zooming by me leaving me fuming all the time.

At 4:08 AM, Blogger valkyrie said...

pssst. there is a secret spot to catch a cab. i tell you next time we catch up!

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too true!

Something strange is happening in taxiland!

Last Thursday night at Harbourfront most taxis which came through the taxi rank were parking in the pickup slots with ON CALL signs lit up, then 5 or ten minutes later zoomed away empty - presumably to a call which had EVENTUALLY come in!! The queue was full, and in the 15 minutes I was on the end of it I saw maybe 3 genuine pickups at the queue, 4 or 5 (probably genuine) call pickups, and at least 6 "WAIT for a call then PISS OFF" cases.

Then I took the MRT.


At 3:11 PM, Blogger knobby said...

Well done. Wonder if that response was a form letter or whether they actually meant it.

I am taking the path of least resistance -- just bought a bike! Costs about as much as a motorcycle but then this is more fun.

At 11:00 PM, Blogger ene said...

We should all start our own campaign against such drivers. I have started to record all the numbers of cab drivers who drive past when I flag them down (lights on, no on call sign). I love it how they drive right past me as if I am completely transparent. Then I whip out my phone and key their numbers in. I'd write in when I hit 20 numbers - which shouldn't be too difficult.

I used to work at Suntec and have waited an HOUR in the queue just to test how long I had to wait without calling. Thank God I changed jobs.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger dr.lowem said...

yah u know, sometimes i wonder whether to kick murphy (murphy's law) in the shin (or balls) when it comes to cab-flagging.

and most of the time, empty cabs will woosh by you as though u're invisible.

then there's also my constant hand signals to those bastards (WHAT'S UP!) who drive past.

there's no end to this cab fiasco in singapore. BAAAH.

ps. no doubt! that was a fantastic email complaint!

At 6:03 PM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

I'm quite astounded that so many people have similar experiences. I thought I was a walking cab repellant, spreading cab repulsion to affect all people around me.

The letter was typed out in a 15-minute burst of compressed rage, after which I felt better for 2 seconds (after clicking the send button) and then a slow burning rage for the rest of the afternoon (must be hormones).

In fact, when I saw the ragged little queue of cabs hiding under the Sheares Bridge along Raffles Avenue, with their lights smugly turned off, I just wanted to take a baseball bat to all their windscreens.

I know cab drivers don't have easy lives or easy jobs, but this kind of behaviour does not attract public sympathy.

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous dilettanteP said...

So what's happening in Singapore?

Why this strange taxi phenomenon?

Can someone please enlighten me?

At 12:23 PM, Blogger HairyDonut said...

Actually the phenomenon is the fact that cab drivers in Singapore will continually complain about not being able to make ends meet because it's difficult to make money driving a cab.

These are the same cab drivers who will then go into hiding during rush hour, so that they don't pick up flag-down passengers, but will lie in wait near the central business district for calls to come in so that they can charge an extra S$4 per call responded to.

If you flag down a cab within the Central Business District at rush hour, you have to pay an additional S$3 over and above the flag down meter rate (S$2.50) + whatever's on the meter at the end of the ride.

If you call a cab, it's an additional S$4 on top of all that.

Basically it now costs S$9.50 to get your butt into a taxi at rush hour in the central business district, simply because it's so difficult to flag down a cab - you have to call one, and then wait 5 minutes for it to arrive.

5 minutes only? you ask. Yes. Because the cab was hiding just behind the building when you called.

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