Tuesday, December 6, 2011

No Comfort For Commuters

The headline says it all - Singapore's largest taxi operator ComfortDelGro has its eye on the profit line. When it cites "strong population growth and an increase in tourist arrivals have resulted in a significant spike in demand for taxi", it was not trying to address a shortage in supply. There was no equivalent sound bite of "they can always take the next cab".

ComfortDelGro is no run of the mill transport company. It knows its action is implicit direction for other taxi operators to follow. The National Taxi Association (NTA) actually urged the other operators, Trans-Cab, SMRT, Premier, Smart and Prime, to join in the feeding frenzy. This selfish act is a move that will push up inflation which is currently running around two-year highs. In October the transport component, which makes up 16 percent of Singapore's consumer price index, went up by 10.5 percent year-on-year, faster than the 5.4 percent rise in the overall index.

NTA president Wee Boon Kim had the audacity to admit that Comfort Delgro had been in discussion with leaders from two of its branches over the fare issue in the past few months. They probably plotted in secret, and sounded out the official blessing for their greed before making the move. The "win some, lose some" strategy - token 20 cent discount for call booking - is as good as lifted from the government line when the distance-based fare structure was implemented.

You can bet your increased flagdown fare that the head of the Government Parliamentary Committee and Transport, Cedric Foo, won't be making strenuous objection on your behalf. As a matter of fact, he is already making pathetic excuses for the other side, arguing that the taxi industry is deregulated and therefore a free market. The committee he  heads is just for show, another wayang to justify the MP allowance.

Let's hope the other cab companies will not sell their soul to the devil. Commuters can rally around and support them, and boycott the government linked entity. For once, let them have a taste of discomfit.


  1. Singapore is the hippiest place on earth -- peak period surcharge now from 6pm to MIDNIGHT!

    We are also the hardest working people I supposed!

  2. Mr Singh said during the last PAP Annual Meeting that there is no point discussing issues that are already fully cooked. MPs have no way to change the context of the issue since it has already been decided earlier. Just weeks later, we have Cedric Foo taking up taxi issue in parliament that has already been decided. What wayang!

    The timing of taxi fare increase is most untimely. Whilst many have been retrenched and others waiting to be laid off soon, we encourage taxi companies to raise the fare. This is despie of the frequent complaints that MRT and buses are crowded and that COE is hitting the roof soon. Economy outlook is worrying too with GDP lowering and economic crisis in Europre looming.

    Why pass all costs to commuters where government can actually help to defray some by removing taxis from Cat A COE and lowering the Deisel tax.

  3. This one really gets my blood boil. Right about 4years ago, I noticed the same taxi trip from my house to workplace used to be only $7-8, and with fare adjusted and peaked, it went to $14-$15 for a similar trip - double! I have since boycotted taxi unless abolustely necessary. Right now it can probably go up to $20 for a similar. What the bloody hell are these people sleeping on the job for all their incompetency - they should be FIRED! Go take a scoot to hkg and see how it's been done, efficiently and affordably. And don't give me the crab about diesel oil, paying workers etc. This PARTY and COUNTRY is totally incompetent in curtailing inflation and allowing only the rich foreigners and expats to benefit. There WILL BE NO more seats for them in 2016.

  4. 7 days a week are peak hour. Somebody tell me why a city like Hong kong doesn't even have peak hour or surcharge and still have plenty of taxies to flag around!? This is utter BS.

    So they get to decide the sauce, and they cooked us anyway. So what co-chef or sous-chef in the new singaporean story. This is an awful dish you don't want to be served at all.

  5. See how these GLC owned companies can get away with murder, oops I mean 'blood sucking' literally.

    The last time those express bus companies came together to support some sort of new fares, they called it anti-competition and even fined them accordingly. Is it because none of these express bus companies belongs to a GLC ?

    Now even this National Taxi Association has the guts to call upon the other taxi operators to follow ComfortDelgro's example and if this is not anti-competition, what is it then ?

    And they don't even have the patience to wait any longer as PAP will be most happy that they have the patience to do it after the GE. What is next ?

  6. cedric foo lagi best ' commuters can vote with their feet..if they feel fares are too high, then they can take a cab with another company".!!

    This guy must have been sleeping with an executive from a similar transport company -- that they think so alike. unfeeling technocrats like these are a waste to occupy on singapore's scarce land.

    I demand gerard ee reveals all the stock option shares based on profits made that the GLC + Ministers are getting as part of their salary package when we assess their salary benchmark.

  7. Cedric Fool is talking cock only. As if the government did not realise Comnfort is about to increase its taxi fare. Also as if Cedric did not know that other taxi companies will follow soon, same as patrol companies(perhaps not so fast so to give public the impression that they are not screwing public togather).

  8. So the left hand don't know what the right hand is doing lah..

    So much for consultation with the public. They don't even consult each other before hand and just shaft it down our throats.

    Santa Claus is coming early to take away your presents. Make sure everybody dress up as scrooge when it comes to Ministerial pays.

  9. Hi Tattler,

    Like most of your articles, I enjoy this one, however, you made ONE glaring spelling mistake today, you spelt Cedric Foo's name completely WRONG! Okay, not totally, you just missed the important "L", it is Cedric FooL, buddy!

    Seriously, Comfort Taxi was started by the evil old fart's late wife, I wouldn't expect anything
    good, decent, kind or helpful from them.

  10. @Tattler,

    How about doing a piece on property tax, which was just INCREASED! Again.

    With the impending global recession, shouldn't the Beast & Co REDUCE taxes instead???

  11. Let me lay out the facts and realities for everyone. Here's the Taxi situations in Hong Kong which is famed for its affordable and efficient services. (All prices below quoted is in HK$ (so divide by 6 for $SG conversion)

    - Taxi Driver Rental/day = $350 for 12hr shift.
    - Diesel oil/fuel = $150
    - Total expenses/day = avg $500
    - Booking Fee $5

    - No CBD/City surcharge
    - No ERP / Gantries
    - No Midnight charges
    - No Peak Hour charges
    - Insurance covered by Privately run co-ops

    They are cheap, accessible, fast and go island wide. SG keeps piling up all these confusing charges and with $thousand dollars on COE, they still can't solve the congestion, and missing taxis around midnight. Clearly everyone can see it's merely a money making mechanism. You don't need complicated PHD or engineering science to solve urban myths like the ones they have created

  12. They will cling on and insist on unchanged Ministerial pay because they need it to fuel their great supreme class lifestyles even though they make it out to us that they live plain, simple lifestyles.

  13. Ask whom did you vote for in GE2011?
    All these raises in prices and taxes are predictable after each GE. It is a pattern that more or less becomes a law or rule.

    The key issue is not not to raise prices of this and that. The real issue is the lack of an accountable and transparent government. The real issue is a parliament that is dominant and controlled by one single ruling party. the real issue is there is no real democracy in this country.

    What should Singaporeans do? If you do nothing and same thing as in the past 40 years, the pattern will continue 5-year after 5-year. You need to start thinking, make sure you vote wisely this time in GE2016 to obtain a truly and fully accountable and transparent government. Not only you, your relatives, your friends, your neighbors, your colleagues, your... Only people power will be able to change this pattern forever and for once.

  14. Well, anybody who accepts that taxi-drivers have to cope with rising cost of living WILL HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT EVERYBODY RESIDING IN SIN IS AFFECTED BY THE COST OF LIVING.


  15. Everything is already fixed! Nobody can change it. You complain some more they will give you the middle finger.

  16. /// The National Taxi Association (NTA) actually urged the other operators, Trans-Cab, SMRT, Premier, Smart and Prime, to join in the feeding frenzy. ///

    Isn't this price fixing? Isn't this a cartel? Where is the Committee on Competition when you need them?

  17. http://humyeefansang.blogspot.com/2011/12/singapore-taxi-is-more-fucked-up-than.html

  18. Isn't it laughable .. no problem to increase Ministers' salaries, PUB, bus n taxi fares,HDB prices, property tax, etc , etc ; but hawkers told not to increase their prices !!!They are so concern for us - make sure we have our 3 meals at affordable hawker prices