e-hailing better but not answer to shabby Malaysian cabs

Taxi Malaysia

Everyone knows the standard of the Malaysian taxi. Not all, but many of them refuse to use meter, the taxi condition is shabby, some of them aren’t polite and the list goes on.

On a personal basis, I’ve been quoted RM25 for a short trip from KLCC to Bukit Bintang. I was hurled abuses when I demanded that the meter be used. My foreign friends, who were with me, were shocked with the episode.

There was once I had landed at KL International Airport (KLIA) at 11.30pm but was forced to wait past midnight for a cab. I was told this was to ensure the driver would be able to charge the additional 50 per cent midnight rate. A drive to my destination would then cost RM112.50. These days, I book an e-hailing service and it costs me RM65.

The situation is totally different in Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City. I have no qualms taking Vietnam’s two largest taxi brands there – Mai Linh and Vinasun. In Jakarta, the Blue Bird taxis are my choice.

The taxi drivers are always polite and always use the meter. Even for short distances, they will not reject passengers. The taxis are generally in good condition and clean.

There does not seem to be a well-thought solution to address the problems plaguing Malaysian taxis. Instead, we see new regulations for e-hailing services.

Although the intention is to “legalise” the e-hailing industry, the core of the problem regarding poor taxi service remains unresolved.

Someone came up with the idea of placing the “This is a metered taxi, haggling is prohibited” sticker on the doors. If such stickers had the power to solve haggling, I’m sure many other countries would have done it.

Then there’s the sticker bearing a hotline number of the enforcement agency for passengers to send an SMS or call if they are unhappy with the taxi service. I did send an SMS previously but except for my phone credit being deducted, nothing happened.

In major cities in Vietnam and Indonesia, taxis are operated by different companies. Each brand would want to protect their image to attract passengers.

It is confusing in Malaysia as it is difficult to differentiate between an individually operated taxi and a company-owned one.

But then again, should Malaysian taxi drivers be solely responsible for the poor service?

These taxi drivers need to pay rental for the taxi or permit lease daily to the taxi companies. The price depends on the type of cars they are driving and the class of taxi. And they need to pay rain or shine, even when they are not working if they are ill.

In such a trapped situation, they become desperate and most of the time resort to unscrupulous ways to earn more.

Why are taxi companies allowed to make money by just issuing permit to drivers? Why can’t the permits be issued directly to the drivers? This will save them the daily operational cost.

It is wishful thinking to see the Malaysian taxi service improve but there’s indeed no clear effort by the relevant agency or ministry.

As of now, e-hailing remains a better option.

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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