A Facebook page, Singapore Taxi Driver (Admin) has hit out at Land Transport Authority’s (LTA) announcement that cab firms operating licence fee will rise from 0.1 per cent of gross revenue to 0.2 per cent this year, and then to 0.3 per cent next year. The Straits Times (ST) reported that the fee hike has to do with higher costs associated with monitoring taxi service standards.
The Admin said that the real reasons for the increase of the operating licence is to increase funding for monitoring of taxis to ensure that commuters have adequate taxis available during peak hours, and for research for improvement of taxi services.
Referring to LTA’s conditions of minimum mileage and driving on peak periods which were introduced in recent years and made mandatory for taxi drivers, Admin suggested that LTA already has a system in place to monitor taxi companies.
The Admin claimed that LTA has done nothing for the taxi industry and cabbies in the past years. He further claimed that LTA does not have any solution for the problems faced by them, and that what was needed were solutions not an increase of the cost of operations.
The Facebook Admin then listed several failures of LTA, where he felt the regulatory authority had wasted taxpayers money.
- LTA developed an app called ‘Taxi-Taxi’. The Admin asked: ‘What happened to the app?’ “After spending tens of thousands of dollars to develop the apps which had turn into a “White Elephant”! So tell us, who is using this Taxi-Taxi app now,” he added.
- Imposed a 2% cap of the growth of the taxi population. With the increase of demand for taxis in the last couple of years, together with the 2% cap, demand for taxis far outweighed supply. Resulting in frustrating commuters. With this imposing of 2% cap, LTA had effectively distorted the economy of scale for taxi.
- Heat sensor monitoring at taxi stand. After spending tens of thousands of dollars to install heat sensor at various taxi stand to monitor the movement of the queue of the commuters, and send notification to the various taxi companies to notify the taxi drivers, it risks becoming another ‘white elephant’. More often then not, when taxi drivers respond to such notifications they notice many taxis queuing up and waiting for passengers at the said taxi stand. Eventually, taxi drivers have chosen to ignore the request from the notification.
The Admin asked if the Transport Minister had failed to get an update from LTA on all these initiatives in which the regulatory authority had used taxpayers money on.
The Admin said that if it wishes to lead the taxi industry in the right direction, it should improve the Taxi-taxi app, and use it as a tool to monitor the taxi industry. He further suggested that LTA was missing the key point in the woes faced by the taxi industry – matching of taxis to commuters and vice-versa. This has got to improve he said.
LTA should intervene in the problems faced by taxi drivers and help them find solutions before demanding an increase in licensing fee the Facebook Admin said.