Monday, September 19, 2016

Crossroads in Public Transportation: Taxi

Taxi service is one of the vital feeder of the public transportation in the people mobility especially from small towns or areas not serviced by the stage buses to run their errands or duties. The reputation of Malaysia's taxi service however is much to be pleased. 
It has been marred by the poor conduct of local taxi drivers known among others, refusing to use taxi meters, overcharging and pick and choose destinations to their liking under the pretense, the routes are not accessible and other excuses. Some of the vehicles are poorly maintained or in clean slate, despite owned or managed by individual taxi drivers. 
Prior to any licensing, the operators has gone through the rigorous background checks. According to Key Statistics of Taxi Industry in Peninsular Malaysia, sourced from the Land Public Transportation Commission (SPAD) a sum of 61, 349 taxis operating comprising six licenses: Budget: 39, 056, Hired cars: 16,012, Executive: 2, 884, Airport: 2, 226, TEKS1M: 1, 000 and Premier: 171 taxis. They are owned by 57% individuals and remaining 43% by companies. 
In June 2008 a survey conducted by Malaysian expatriate magazine ‘The Expat’ on an estimated 200 foreigners from 30 countries, Malaysia's taxis were found to rank the lowest among the 23 countries in terms of quality, courtesy, availability and expertise. 
Six years ago, came Uber a ride sharing service that begins to gain popularity worldwide amidst reluctance from several countries, keeping them at bay, due to public/passenger safety among the concerned issues. So does, GrabCar inching into the public transportation industry. 
Both Uber and GrabCar applied the social media applications based on the Android and iOS platform with much magnetism especially when traversing the urban roads, hot on the trails of time and privately owned cars. To date, despite the controversy between JPJ and Uber, the Uber app is not illegal as far as SPAD is concerned. 
With the introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) in April 2015 and taxi rates ratification to cushion the impact on the costs of taxi maintenance, Uber and GrabCar is comparatively up to 20% cheaper. Transactions and bookings are made online and cashless payments with no hidden charges like toll charges or taxi stops. 
Considering the rigors of attaining taxi license, certain terms and conditions stipulated by SPAD through the Land Public Transport Act 2010 (PAD Act 715), Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat Act 2010 (SPAD Act 714), Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board Act 1987 (Act 334) and Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board Amendment Act 2010 (Act A1376), it is unjust and unfair their livelihood threatened by the Uber or GrabCar drivers. 
Uber and GrabCar will remain illegal in the eyes of the law and detrimental to the road users and public safety. A passenger/s of the services are risking their lives enjoying the ride rendered against any insurance claims. These cars are not subjected to a periodic maintenance inspection by the Central Computerised Vehicle Inspection (PUSPAKOM) established in 1994 on commercial vehicles, ownership transfer and volunteered inspection (but not for commercial purposes). 
Nonetheless taxi management and taxi drivers must buck up their services and attitude to secure the trust and reliance of the public towards the industry. Any perpetrated actions by the industry players may result in drawing the passengers away in a long run.