October 07

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Buck up and quit taxing around

VOICES of protest among taxi drivers in Malaysia against Uber and GrabCar seem like a never ending issue. Taxi drivers claim their income have been significantly affected by services available at Uber and GrabCar. They continuously threaten to stage strikes across cities and block roads. Jason Chin laments:

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Why are alternative transport services like Uber and GrabCar flourishing handsomely?

A survey on UK-based website London Cabs not long ago ranked Malaysian taxi drivers to be the worst in the world. That is really quite an astonishing achievement. Travelers to Thailand, India and Indonesia will tell you how ruthless drivers in those countries are. However, somehow Malaysia’s cab drivers are able to rank in worse than them. What does that tell you? People are definitely going to seek alternative services with the quality of taxi drivers we have in our country today.

We often read about complaints passengers have towards taxi drivers in Malaysia. Refusal to use designated meters certain hours of the day, rude drivers, purposely using longer routes during a journey and rejecting customers because location is unfavourable are common problems faced by passengers. Safety has become an issue as well especially when the passenger is a lady. Run-down vehicles and dysfunctional cabs also add to our woes.

There have been minimal serious attempts made by taxi drivers or associations to improve their services. It has always been a monopoly business in Malaysia.

Today, people have a choice. Uber and GrabCar, to a huge extend, eliminates problems mentioned above. People get to plan their travel in accordance with time and place. Why bother going through the hassle of dealing with difficult taxi drivers when much better options are available by touch pads on our smart phones?

In our country, the problem is a single company monopolising a particular service. We have one of the slowest Internet speed because Telekom controls everything. If there were alternative options, I am sure more than three quarter of people would walk away from TM Net. If we had more satellite services, nobody would install Astro whose charges are a rip-off.

Taxi drivers in the country are facing a tough time only because they refuse to provide better and more quality service. Instead of complaining and urging for a ban to alternative services, taxi drivers should instead rise to the challenge and buck up. Find out reasons why people are moving away from conventional taxis and rectify the problems. Force taxi organisations to take a more proactive approach to ensure safety and quality. Take the bull by the horns and prove to us that you guys can do better than Uber and GrabCar.

From the point of an end-user, our ultimate desire is to have a safe, comfortable and reliable means of transportation. If taxi services in Malaysia can drastically improve, people will sway back to conventional taxis.

Stop relying on authorities to ban or limit alternative services because of your incompetence.

JASON CHIN