This is the full text of my letter sent to Today paper. The editor has made some changes to shorten my letter that was published in the newspaper.
I agree with Lin Tai (Today paper, 20 Dec 11) that booking fees for taxis should be capped at $1. The current taxi service in Singapore is clearly unsatisfactory - poor service, lower utilization of taxis (while taxi drivers wait for surcharges and additional fees) and high cost for commuters.
It is time for the Land Transport Authority to review the current model of deregulated taxi fares, which has not been working well for a long time.
I suggest that the authority should now regulate the taxi fares and booking fee for the basic taxi service that is allowed to pick passengers on the road. The Authority can also appoint a service provider to operate a centralized booking service to allow commuters to call any licensed taxi for this nominal fee. This will make it unnecessary for each taxi company to install its own expensive booking system. It will also provide better utilization of taxis and better response time to commuters.
Individual taxi drivers can also be allowed to get a license to operate this basic service, without being tied to a taxi company. This will open up the market to real competition.
Apart from the regulated basic taxi service, the taxi companies can be allowed to operate their own non-standard services. They can charge their own fees for the special service and can take calls at the booking lines. These special taxis should be identified separately and cannot be allowed to pick up passengers on the road.
Tan Kin Lian