Updated with 4 interesting articles!
- Stickers to keep cabbies in line (The Star) – the CVLB responds to the Star’s feature about too many stickers;
- Letter: Stiff penalties will put brakes on errant cabbies (The Star) – M.M. Chih of KL argues that enforcement is needed as a solution, not stickers
- Letter: Taxi drivers will continue fleecing passengers (The Star) – this letter argues that taxi drivers can get away with fleecing customers because they do not see the same customers regularly.
- Article: [New York] Cabbies under a watchful eye (The Star) – discusses a meter-tampering scam that took place in New York City.
TRANSIT took note of the following articles in the newspaper on 1 April 2010 that we wished were nothing more than an April Fool’s joke.
Unfortunately they are real – but happily, they reveal more and more about the taxi industry and the issues, competition and decision making at the CVLB that are behind the problems that many of us see on the roads.
TOO many rules, too many regulations and too many stickers! That’s the general sentiment from city cabbies when asked to comment on the latest CVLB (Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board) ruling to display the No Haggling sticker.
Most cabbies say that some of the stickers are redundant and are a waste of money. Others feel that it makes their taxis look ugly and some even complained that they are running out of space for the stickers.
Taxi drivers also allege that they are forced to buy too many redundant stickers even though it is not compulsory under the CVLB guidelines, but if they fail to display it, they will be penalised by Puspakom (Pusat Pemeriksaan Kenderaan Berkomputer) when they take their cars for inspection.
[TRANSIT: Sounds like one government agency not talking to another government agency.]
“I was penalised once for not displaying the NGV (natural gas vehicle) sticker when I took my taxi for inspection. Despite knowing that it was not compulsory to display the NGV sticker, I had no choice but to the officer off,” a disgruntled driver who spoke on condition of anonymity said.
Another taxi driver who identified himself as Logan said he faced a similar situation when Puspakom failed him for not displaying the Welcome sticker.
“These stickers are troublesome and they (the authorities) keep coming up with so many different ones every year,” he said.
“For instance, the latest No Haggling sticker is redundant because taxis already have a sign with the word Metered Taxi displayed on the roof,” cabbie Rahim K said.
[TRANSIT: Yes, exactly…and the drivers of Teksi Bermeter (Metered Taxis) always use the meter…right….right?]
Peter Lai added, “I spend a minimum of RM100 a year just for the stickers and some of it are of such poor quality that it keeps coming off.’’
“The least they can do is give us the stickers for free. It’s unfair to burden us further as this is something we can do without,’’ Lai said.
Cabbies say that taxi operators should provide drivers with free stickers and it was the social responsibility of the taxi companies to do so.
[TRANSIT: Social responsibility? No, it should be the responsibility of the permit owner as part of their CVLB permit requirements.]
“I got my stickers for free the first time but when it came off and I went back to get another I was told I had to buy it,” Lai said Lai.
Meanwhile, a printing company supplying taxi stickers in Chow Kit agreed that there were so many rules to follow that even they get confused.
“We try to help out by giving a good rebate to the cabbies and when you buy in bulk, it’s even cheaper,” a representative from the company said.
The response from the CVLB:
“IF they (the taxi drivers) are budak baik (good boys), then we don’t need to come up with all these sticker rules,” CVLB director Datin Naimah Ramli said in response to the cabbies complaining that there were too many sticker rules to follow.
“The stickers are not for the drivers but for the consumers. When we raised the taxi rates last year, people were shocked at the new rates and there were many complaints of cabbies fleecing customers.
“The stickers are meant to educate consumers on their rights,” Naimah said.
Naimah said when a customer gets into a taxi, they would know their rights at once. The new rates, no haggling and clients charter and CVLB hotline stickers should ideally be on display inside and outside the taxi.
“The mandatory issuance of receipts is another means to protect the consumers. When you ask for a receipt, every little detail from the taxi no, duration, distance, taxi company phone no, meter serial number, waiting time, midnight charges, date, time, conplaints hotline are also printed.
“All this is done for the benefit of the consumers so that they cannot be taken for a ride by unscrupulous taxi drivers,” she said.
Naimah said this was also another way to get the public to be the eyes and ears of the CVLB.
“Let’s be frank. There are 31,000 taxis out there and I only have 100 officers in my enforcement team. It’s impossible to catch all of them, but with the people’s help, we can do it,” she said.
[TRANSIT: No, you cannot do it if it is impossible – even with the public’s help – because ‘cannot do it’ is the very definition of the word impossible.]
Naimah added that the CVLB did not supply the stickers so there was no way it could be a money-making scam.
[TRANSIT: Well, someone is making money off this.]
“We only provide a sample to the taxi associations and operators and they print the stickers,” she said.
Meanwhile, Federal Territory and Selangor Taxi and Hired Car Asso ciation (Perpekli) Datuk Aslah Abdullah rubbished claims made by cabbies about the low-quality stickers.
“Buy the stickers from legitimate places and not at petrol pumps or printing shops. The quality and prices offered by the associations is much better. We support the government’s move to educate the public but the drivers must also play their part,” he said.
Malaysian Taxi Drivers and Taxi-Limousine and Hired Car Operators Association (Petekma) president Yusof Lahir, however, defended cabbies and agreed that the operators should bear the cost of the stickers.
“They should give it free to the drivers — it’s only fair,” he said.
[TRANSIT: We agree!]
Yusof, however, agreed that the stickers served a purpose but defended the drivers’ complaints that the latest ‘No Haggling’ sticker was a waste of money.
“Why put it on the outside when the customer is sitting inside — who is going to see it?” he asked.
When contacted, Sunlight Radio Taxi Service Sdn Bhd — the largest taxi company in the Klang Valley, whose cabs make up about 60% of the total number on the road — said they provided drivers with free stickers the first time around.
Executive director Choi Wei Yee said a rebate was offered when the drivers needed to replace old stickers.
Last year, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz compared taxis to toilets, saying that cabbies caused more problems for tourists than dirty public restrooms.
According to Nazri, there were more complaints by tourists about the taxi drivers’ behaviour than about toilets and the taxi drivers are worse than dirty toilets and the authorities would come down hard on errant cabbies.
We know what we think about the CVLB and the current taxi system – but what can be done to fix the immediate problems?
Should we direct more attention to the CVLB or to the taxi drivers or the companies themselves? Or should we direct more attention to the customers who want better taxi service?