Saturday, July 7, 2007

Give Up Your Car and Use Taxis?

Picture: Taxis near Taipei 101, Taiwan

Would you give up your car and use taxis? Think about the advantages you will have:
  • No parking charges
  • No summon for parking or driving offences
  • No vehicle maintenance
  • No road tax and radio license fees
  • No need to purchase petrol
I have thought about giving up the car since taxi service is also able to bring me from point to point but I could not bring myself to do so due to two key reasons - safety and availability. Taxi operators are profit-making companies and reducing cost will increase profitability. I am always concern about the road-worthiness of the taxis that ply our roads. Although LTA has set minimum safety requirement and regular inspection, management of the taxi companies will always try to stretch the maintenance intervals and lifespan of tyres while not violating regulations to meet business objectives and get their performance bonus. I hope they will balance short term gain with long term sustainability as I am appalled to see taxis with bald tyres and smoking exhaust.

I have on one occasion hired a taxi with the driver who is constantly checking the booking system for new calls as we are near my destination. He would whisper his calculation of how long to reach my destination and then to the pickup point and lament about not being able to make the booking. His behaviour really had me worried as his mind is not focus on the road condition. On several other occasions, I had drivers who were almost dozing off at the wheels and I had to keep up a conversation to maintain their alertness. I certainly ensure that my safety belts are securely fastened.

There have been many letters written to the local papers’ forum about the taxi booking fees. You cannot find any empty taxi during peak hours and rainy weather. They are strategically parked and will appear as soon as you make a booking. Many foreign tourists must have wasted precious time queueing at taxi stands in vain and seeing all arriving taxis with “on call” sign lighted up. The booking fees have become a talking point and it is one that foreign delegation should come to study it as a negative example - they should NEVER implement such a system back home. I am sure that LTA is aware of the complaints from the public so what is LTA doing about it? I felt that the taxi booking fees should be scrapped before we can claim to have world-class public transportation.

In the meantime, I will renew my road tax and continue driving my trusty MPV. I have full control over the servicing, tyre change, etc. and safety in my own hands. I would just have to bear with using taxis to and from the airport for my overseas travel.

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