Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Confusing Cab Fare Structure

Published in St Times Online

SINGAPORE'S transport system is among the best in the world, but its taxi fare structure is bewildering.

Not only is there a multiplicity of surcharges, but there is also no standard flagdown rate. The average passenger is happy to take a standard taxi but often has to pay a higher fare because the first taxi that comes along is a Mercedes or another model that charges a higher flagdown rate.

There should be a standard flagdown rate for all regular-size cabs.

Jairam Amrith

The Singapore Government believes in the free market. They believe that taxi companies should set their own fares and cannot collude to fix a standard fare. (Look at the action taken against the bus companies running services to Malaysia).

The Government's views is misguided. Public services, including taxi fares, must be regulated and standardised. At this least, this should apply to the "standard" taxi service. Taxi companies can operate "premium" services and fix their own fares. Give the choice to commuters to call for a standard taxi service. All taxi stands should operate on the standard fare.

I believe that this is a practical approach.


  1. The problem is that the regulators allow so many different kinds of taxis to roam the streets, and in such great quantities. Maxi Cabs, Mercedes Taxis, CNG Taxis, just to name a few. In this way, the chances of getting a more expensive taxi is high. Picture the following scenarios:

    1. You are in a hurry, so you want a taxi. For a long time, no taxi comes along. Then a big taxi comes along. Do you flag that taxi and face $2 to $5 extra in fares, or do you let it pass and risk waiting for another 15 minutes?

    2. As it is 2 pm, few people are taking taxis and you see a queue of 10 taxis. You observe that the first taxi is a Mercedes and the second taxi is a normal taxi. Just as you approach the second taxi, the driver of the first taxi opened his door and start waving at you; he must have waited for more than half an hour already. Do you choose the more expensive first taxi or the cheaper second taxi?

    3. You are at the front of the taxi queue and there is one person behind you. Two taxis entered the very narrow taxi lane; to your dismay the first taxi is a CNG one. You ask the person behind you whether he wants to take the first taxi, and he refuses. What do you do?

    I encountered scenarios similar to the three above. Many times I took the more expensive taxi not because I wanted to or needed it, but simply because I didn't want to make a huge scene. To complicate things, many taxi drivers of the more expensive taxis will claim, either out of ignorance or malice, that only the flag down fare is different and that the metered fare is the same, when both flag down and metered fares are more expensive.

  2. The fare structure is too bewildering for me to argue on the fare, as i lost track of fare charged from different taxi companies. What good is competition where the chances of taxis ripping off commuters are tempting. Pity the tourists who are unfamilier with this peculiar fare structure of Singapore.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.