Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Need a cab in CBD? Get to a taxi stand

Nov 13, 2007

LTA to enforce new rule for safety reasons from March; 15 more taxi stands to be built

By Maria Almenoar & Jessica Lim

FROM March next year, commuters will need to find a taxi stand if they want a cab in the Central Business District.

This includes areas like Orchard Road, Shenton Way, Raffles Place and Suntec City.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) yesterday announced the new rule, alongside stiffer new penalties for taxi drivers who do not stop for passengers, who tout or who overcharge. Misbehaving cabbies can lose their licence immediately in serious cases.

The ruling about taxi stands is meant to improve road safety, said the LTA.

With the introduction of more bus lanes within the city, it said, taxis are finding it harder to pick up passengers hailing them from the roadside. Plus, those who do stop in time for passengers may swerve in indiscriminately or suddenly, making it dangerous and disruptive to traffic flow.

So, instead of sticking their arms out and flagging a taxi from the kerbside, commuters will have to get one from a taxi stand - and even if you book one, it must pick you up at a stand.

The only exception is if residents within the city get taxis to pick them up within their private driveways.

The LTA will build 15 more taxi stands by the end of next month, bringing the total number to 95 in the city area.

Taxi stands will always be within a five-minute walk of any building in the CBD, LTA assured commuters yesterday.

Both taxi drivers and commuters seemed to welcome the new rule yesterday: Mr Adi Negara, 48, a taxi driver for the past 11 years, explained how stopping in the CBD can be a dangerous game.

'There are many bus lanes and it is difficult to stop, and if we do, we have to swerve through lanes.

'The taxi stands will help because commuters will know where to wait and we will know where to go.'

While commuters The Straits Times spoke to yesterday generally agreed that it would be safer, a bigger worry was if the taxis would come at all - whether at a stand or otherwise.

Mr Jeffrey Chan, 31, a wealth-management consultant who works in a building on Cecil Street, said that, already, most of his time at the taxi stand is spent watching the cabbies - with their 'On call' signs lit up - zip by.

He reckons seven out of 10 won't stop. Which already equates to 30-minute waits every night for his taxi home.

His sentiment was echoed by people polled last night.

It is more about increasing the supply of cabs during the rush hour to meet demand, say commuters.

Or upping the flag-down rate for cabs so more taxi drivers will want to stop at the stands, say drivers.

'If you charge passengers a one-time surcharge to take a taxi from the city, more cabs - after dropping passengers off in the suburbs - will be more willing to go back to the city,' said cabby Dicky Ong, 53.

No comments: