Fear not, cab companies…LTA to the rescue!

Discount ads on taxis illegal, says LTA
Marketing tactics and soliciting are against company rules and the law

By Maria Almenoar

A CABBY’S attempts to get more passengers by advertising his discounted rates has been shot down by authorities.

Trans-Cab driver A.L. Tan had placed a handwritten cardboard sign at his windscreen offering to waive the new peak hour surcharge, which is 35 per cent of the metered fare, compared to old rate of a $2 flat fee.

According to cabbies, since the fare increase last month, many passengers are avoiding taking cabs during the peak hours of 7am to 9.30am, and 5pm to 8pm.

Mr Tan’s cab company has warned him that his marketing tactics run against Trans-Cab’s company policy.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) on Monday backed the taxi company.

‘If these drivers advertise, there will be an increased tendency for them to solicit for customers based on lower fares advertised if no commuters board their taxis,’ said the LTA spokesman.

Read the full story in Tuesday’s edition of The Straits Times.

This is simply amazing! On one hand, the Govt says that the taxi market has been liberalized, so taxi companies can set fares as high as they like and the govt won’t interfere. Yet the moment a taxi driver tries to be a bit more entrepreneural, the LTA suddenly swoops in from nowhere to censure the poor man.

The LTA spokesman said, “If these drivers advertise, there will be an increased tendency for them to solicit for customers based on lower fares advertised if no commuters board their taxis.” (Read: If we let one fella do it, EVERYONE will do it and we’ll end up with ridiculously low taxi fares.)

SO?! That’s better for consumers, right? Oh sorry, I forgot the interests of companies come before citizens. After all, companies pay taxes, but most of us lousy plebians hardly pay any income tax. How naive of me.

And pray tell how is something like this illegal? Is LTA going to justify this or are we supposed to take their declaration as the Gospel truth? ST reader grognard, who commented on this article, wrote:

It may be against company policy, but it is hardly illegal.

The Public Transport Council Act (CAP 259B) states:

Bus, taxi and rapid transit system fares
23. —(1) No person shall be entitled to demand and take any bus, taxi or rapid transit system fare in excess of that approved by the Council.
[29/95;29/99]

(2) Subsection (1) shall not prevent any person from demanding or taking a lower fare than that approved by the Council.
[29/99]

Perhaps LTA officials need to ask themselves: Am I a transport company regulator or a transport company advocate?

Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

4 thoughts on “Fear not, cab companies…LTA to the rescue!”

  1. I don’t understand why no one seems to take a look at the psychological impact on the taxi drivers. Drop in business is painful enough, the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness are even greater. You see, taxi fare and taxi rental are set by the people up there. We are at their mercy. To add salt, I got sarcastic remarks from my passengers, for example, “Why no one is queuing up for taxi huh?”, “Last time it was a long queue of people…” Every day, there are 20,000 taxis on the road, how many are ugly drivers? 500? Why punish 19,500 hardworking drivers? Why?

    Taxi Number: SHC751E

  2. SL> i agree with you for your last bit – not all taxi drivers are “bad” driver. I am a driver, and I am also a taxi passenger, and recently was getting into a cam at AMK, and instructed the driver to change to the right most lane after picking me up. He promptly agreed and indicated well for at least 3 seconds before moving across the lanes. A Malay man driving a Honda civic was in the distance, and speeded up flashing his lights and horning, not wanting to let my cabbie “cut” his lane. It was a bloody red light anyway! I don’t see why people detest taxi drivers when they are NOT doing anything, and it just goes to show what kind of uncivilized, uneducated people we have in our country. Honestly. TO SHAME SINGAPORE! Government should channel some of the country’s funds into compulsory manners lessons, cos it seems to be the fundamental lacking in this COUNTRY!!!!!

  3. i just don’t understand how the current fare revision benefits taxi companies? doesn’t the fare go directly to cabbies?

  4. Agree that not all taxi drives are bad. This fare structure is a bad bad move by those up there.

    But please, we don’t need the zheng-hu to teach us how to behave. Just as there are a few bad eggs within the honest taxi drivers, there are also many assholes in Singapore, locals or otherwise.

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