What will the increase to taxi & bus fares bring?

With the rise in bus and taxi fares set to begin on 1 August, TRANSIT took note of the following articles in the media.

The Malay Mail took their tough attitude towards the taxi drivers, with a grumpy editorial about consumer expectations and fairness entitled THE MAIL SAYS: They’ll smile now, ear-to-ear.

The taxi stand at KL Sentrals lower level - image courtesy of the Malay Mail
The taxi stand at KL Sentral's lower level - image courtesy of the Malay Mail

But we also noted two other interesting articles, below.

Taxi meters not re-calibrated, so it’s the old rates for now (The Star)
Sunday August 2, By SHAHANAAZ HABIB

KUALA LUMPUR: The new rates for taxi fares started yesterday — but the 21,000 cabbies in the Klang Valley cannot charge the revised fares until they have re-calibrated their meters.

The changeover for the entire fleet of taxis in the area could take more than two months as there are only six main taxi meter supply centres, said Federal Territory and Selangor taxi operators association president Datuk Aslah Abdullah.

“Only pay what is stated on the meter. If the meter hasn’t been adjusted to the new rate, then the customer pays the old rate.

“The only problem is, customers will probably be confused during this adjustment period as some taxis will be charging the old rates, while others charge the new rates,” he said when contacted. [TRANSIT: That is the only problem he sees? How about the thousands of drivers who will continue to ignore the meter?]

The Government announced that from Aug 1, taxi fares would start off with RM3 instead of the previous flag-off rate of RM2, and subsequently increase 10 sen each 115m instead of 150m before.

During traffic jams, the meter would clock 10 sen for every 21 seconds instead of 45 seconds.

Making the right choice: A taxi driver, who has yet to calibrate his meter, using the old rates to charge passengers at the IOI Mall in Puchong, Selangor. Image courtesy of The Star

Aslah said with the new rates, customers could expect to pay about 30% more in fares.

“If a customer feels the fare is too high, please don’t quarrel with the taxi driver. Ask for a receipt and make a complaint. The receipt has details of the taxi number, mileage, fare, as well as the telephone numbers of the taxi company and the Commercial Vehicle and Licensing Board,” he said. [TRANSIT: Show of hands please. All customers who have received a receipt from a taxi driver when asked, please put up your hand. Anyone? Anyone?]

He expected a 30% drop in the number of customers in the first few months following the fare increase.

Aslah said taxi drivers are required to send their vehicles to Puspakom to have the meters inspected within a week after re-calibration.

On the first day of the fare increase yesterday, many taxis waited from early morning at the meter re-calibration centres.

Teoh Cheng Lim said he gave up and decided to have his taxi meter re-calibrated another day after waiting for a long time at a centre in Cheras Mahkota.

The re-calibration process takes an average of 30 minutes for each taxi.

Under the previous rate, a taxi ride from Section 16 here to Glenmarie cost RM15 (including the RM2 for the call and 50 sen for toll).

The return ride from Glenmarie to Section 16, using a taxi with a re-calibrated meter, cost RM21.30 (excluding RM2 for the call).

However, the driver used a longer route on the return trip and there was a jam, which partly explained the more than 30% difference in fare to the same destination.

Taxi drivers to KLIA tend to charge either a flat rate, or the meter fare inclusive of RM12 surcharge and the toll rates.

Most taxies in the Klang Valley have converted to natural gas vehicles and pay 68 sen per litre for gas.

TRANSIT Says:

Does anyone  remember the last time the meter was increased? We recall that this was in 2006. Starting fares were increased from RM2.00 to RM2.20  and there was an increase in the increment for distance.

This is when the silver-coloured meter with the blue digits (as seen in the image above) started to appear in Klang Valley taxies.

Now, fast forward to 2009. Would it surprise you to see that the majority of taxies in the Klang Valley  (those that actually use the meter) have continued to charge the basic meter fare at RM2.00 – whiole the vast majority of taxies seem to avoid using the meter?

Why is it that, 3 years are the last fare increase, many taxies have not recalibrated their meters?

Is it because of the lack of facilities to re-calibrate the meters? Or because the increase then was so small as to not be worth the effort and time? Or because tax drivers preferred the hue and cry, hping to get a sympathetic ear from the CVLB?

Either way, we at TRANSIT want to see taxi drivers using the meter – or a reasonable set of coupon rates set by the Local Transport Authority. So we want to know the following:

  • How long it will take for all taxi meters to be re-calibrated;
  • Who will be responsible for ensuring that all meters are re-calibrated by this tim; and,
  • What will happen to taxi drivers who do not recalibrate their meters.

By the way, down in Penang the government has decided to defer the increase in meter rates. This may be because the majority of Penang Taxi Drivers do not use meters and would be resistant to having the governmnet impose the ruling on them so soon.

It is nice to see some government involvement and we wish them the best of luck in getting Penang Taxi drivers to use the meter.

But we at TRANSIT would like to ask  – Where was Penang’s vaunted Public Transport Coucil when RapidPenang became the first operator to announce it would increase its fares (as much as 40%), following the recent fare increase?

Also, was the Public Transport Council consulted on the fare increase proposed by RapidPenang, and if so, why was this kept quiet?

And finally, if they were not consulted, why have they not spoken out about not being consulted?

Penang takes the sensible route with deferment (The Star)
Sunday August 2, 2009, By ANN TAN

GEORGE TOWN: The implementation of new taxi rates in Penang has been postponed to the end of the year.

State executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow said the decision was made because the meters had not been calibrated to the new rates.

Gurney Drive Taxi Association chairman Kim Eng Huat, who attended a meeting among taxi drivers, the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board, the Road Transport Department and the state last Thursday, said taxi drivers were anxious for more information about the new rates.

“We have to pay RM60 for meter adjustment and RM25 to Puspakom for inspection if we were to abide by the rates now.

“What if they adjusted the rates again? Then, we’ll have to spend another RM85,” he said in an interview.

Kim said most Penangites could afford their own transport or opted for buses. However, about 90% of the taxi drivers’ income were derived from tourists.

“The slight increase in the rates is not practical for us,” he said.

Kim hoped the rate for Penang taxis could be adjusted to 20 sen for every 100m instead but added they would not mind maintaining the flag-off fare at RM2.

Finnish tourist Peitsa Helin, 26, said he agreed with Kim’s suggestion because taxi drivers need to earn a living.

“If the price for everything is going up, it is only reasonable for them to charge a higher rate,” he said.

Computer engineering student Normaisarah Zakaria said she hoped the taxi drivers would use the meter system as soon as possible.

“A lot of my friends who use taxis complain about the different rates they charge,” she said.

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One thought on “What will the increase to taxi & bus fares bring?”

  1. Why everytime to increase price, the step taken is very fast, but when it comes to suggestion for quality improvement, the step taken is like turtle.

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