These changes will begin in the second half of 2015

When I was a child, I remember seeing only two main colours of cabs on the road: blue and yellow. Now, there are seven different taxi companies plying the road, all with different flag-down rates, which makes it all very confusing.

After much public outcry and feedback, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) has finally decided to order taxi companies to set their fares in a more “structured” and “standardised” manner, effective from the second half of 2015.


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So what does it all mean?

1. Flag-down rates remain different

Yup, so annoying right. This means that when you flag a blue Comfort Hyundai Sonata cab, you pay $3.20 as the flag-down rate; but flagging a red Toyota Wish TransCab will start your fare at $3.60.

WHY: This is because “mandating its harmonisation may lead to higher flag-down fares for commuters,” said the LTA and Public Transport Council (PTC). Taxi companies previously said that if they had to standardise their flag-down rates, they would revise it upwards.

Lesson to learn: Pick your taxi wisely. Don’t anyhow garang and flag the Mercedes cab. Or even worse, the Bentley one.

2. Distance rates

Each taxi company can only have two different sets of rates: one for their standard fleet and the other for the premium cabs. But in a cruel twist of fate, these rates can be different across different taxi companies. This means that for every 400m travelled, Comfort may choose to charge $0.22 whilst Premier Taxis may price their fares at $0.21.

WHY: To “allow for competition”.

As of now, distance fares for standard cabs are constant across the different companies.


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3. Booking fees

There will be 3 different booking fees: peak period, off-peak and advance booking, which applies for both standard and premium fleets. The peak period duration will also have to be standardised across all taxi companies. This means Comfort cannot have its peak period from 6am to 9am and SMRT Taxis have theirs from 6am to 10am.


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4. Additional passenger fee

Taxis can usually sit up to only four passengers. However, a fifth person can be accommodated in larger taxis, subject to an extra charge. This extra charge must be the same across all taxi models.


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5. Other surcharges

Surcharges such as the midnight surcharge, city area surcharge and peak period surcharge will all be “harmonised across the industry”. This means that irregardless of which taxi company or taxi model you take, the charge will be the same.

Midnight Surcharge: Additional 50% of metered fare

City Area Surcharge: Additional $3

Peak Period Surcharge: Additional 25% of metered fare

This is already the case on the ground, so LTA and PTC are merely putting pen to paper.


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Baby steps

We give credit to LTA and PTC for listening to public feedback and making these small changes. However, we dare bet that the public generally only wants two different flag-down rates: one for standard cabs and the second for the luxury ones. Don’t need to have so many different cab models, cause sitting in a Toyota or a Hyundai doesn’t really matter to us anyways.

Plus, a confused passenger is not a happy passenger.

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Featured Image via Customer Service Review
With reference to The Straits Times, Channel NewsAsia, TODAY