It’s a tough life being a taxi driver nowadays, not only do they have to contend with e-hailing, but now they also have to deal with e-scooters luring away potential customers.
The rise of e-hailing services such as Uber and Grab has already caused much disruption to taxis with regard to their medium-long distance fares, but many would still seek cabs out for certain shorter ‘last mile’ journeys.
These cover distances that, while not far, are not easily accessible by walking or just take too much time on foot. Compound that with outside factors such as the searing mid-day heat or the common evening downpour, jumping into the back of a taxi becomes the most appealing choice especially if they’re ready and waiting.
MOT Bans E-Scooters
This is where e-scooters come into the picture as they have begun sprouting all over locations in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya, becoming a nuisance to the point that the Ministry of Transport decided to stick a ban on these type of micromobility vehicles on public roads (and an RM300 fine).
They have steadily increased in popularity especially in dense urban areas, especially commercial centres with one Singapore-based company targeting public transit stations such as those for the LRT and MRT.
E-scooters vs taxi
Though this problem is surely more widespread, according to The Star, cabbies who have now become reliant on fares to and from the Bukit Jalil LRT station have been losing many fares to the increasing prevalence and accessibility of these e-scooters.
“Now people, especially the younger generation, tend to use the e-scooters to get home or to the malls nearby, which used to be our fares,” said a driver who only wanted to be identified as Raj.
“They prefer using e-scooters to get to their final destination and there is nothing we can do about it,” he said.
Another taxi driver, identified as Rahman, said: “We wait all day, sometimes from 7am to 8pm, to ferry people to and from the LRT station to condominiums and commercial shops nearby,” adding that “the e-scooter companies don’t even have the approval to operate here and I know the stadium (Bukit Jalil) has banned them inside the premises, so they place the e-scooters at the bus stop.”
The management in charge of the Bukit Jalil Stadium, for example, has also banned the use of e-scooters on their premises due to safety concerns, fearing they might collide with the many joggers that frequent the stadium grounds.
Others have pointed out how much of an eyesore they are due to the fact that they are ‘dockless’, meaning users of this e-scooter service are at liberty to leave them wherever they please. They are often seen obstructing public walkways, left carelessly on the ground, or propped up against a tree, curb-side, or street lamp post.
E-scooters Cheaper Than Taxis
Mohd Razi, an e-scooter user apporached by the newspaper, reveals that he uses service regularly as part of this commute to/from work, saying: “My workplace is close by but not walking distance. I used to take a taxi and it cost about RM5 to RM8. If I choose an e-hailing service, it can be as much as RM10 or RM15. But the e-scooter only costs RM2, so I use the scooters now,’’ he said.
Another e-scooter user, identified as Roger, told the publication that he prefers the e-scooters for similar use cases and will continue to use it due to their speed, cost, and convenience.