Kamarudin Mohd Hussain, president of Gabungan Teksi, Kereta Sewa, Limosin dan Teksi Lapangan Terbang SeMalaysia (GTSM), said customer demand for metered taxis has spiked since the borders reopened in April.
The above comment isn’t surprising given its source but neither is the claim that taxi usage has been recently climbing at all hours of the day.
Taxi usage on the rise?
Of course, the main cause for this increase is the consistently high prices presented to users of e-hailing services such as Grab, particularly for relatively short journeys, leading them to explore alternative means of transport.
One example of such an experience was that of K. Malar, who spoke to The Star saying she was quoted RM28 for a 5km journey from Mid Valley Megamall to her home in Taman United in Jalan Kelang Lama.
Not willing to pay such an exorbitant price, she opted for a metered taxi which ended up costing her RM13 instead, for which she tipped the driver an additional RM2, adding “the next time the e-hailing fares are high again, I will surely take a regular taxi.”
E-hailing fares out of control?
In a similar occurrence, Karen Tan, also speaking to The Star, said she was quoted RM9 for a 3km journey from her home in Happy Garden, Kuala Lumpur which “is an RM5 trip at the most and yet, the fee was almost double,” adding “had I not been carrying groceries, I would have walked home.”
It seems that the average Malaysian, particularly in the Klang Valley, has fallen very much out of love with e-hailing services due to its prices rising to unacceptable levels. Where before one might have been able to easily and fairly cheaply get around while relying on such services, they have now become prohibitively expensive.
In an ironic twist of fate, the same customer base that was quick to embrace e-hailing years ago due to bad experiences with metered taxis is now much more inclined to seek them out for the prospect of a much more reasonable fare.
Addressing the ‘first/last mile’ issue, Kamarudin of the GTSM advised people to form an orderly queue “at malls, transport hubs, and LRT stations, urging them to note down a taxi driver’s contact number to book them whenever the need arises for a more personalised and affordable fare.
On the rehabilitation of public opinion of taxis and taxi drivers, he urged Malaysians to “not view us all in a bad light because of one bad experience,” adding “If a taxi driver refuses to use the meter, do not use their service.”
Despite the rise of e-hailing over the past decade, it was reported that some 20,000 taxis were still operating in the greater Kuala Lumpur area. They are metered with fares controlled by the government unlike services such as Grab which uses a dynamic rate based on supply and demand at the sole discretion of the service provider.
Last month, the Transport Ministry called various e-hailing companies to answer for the outcry of complaints it has received from the public over sharp increases in pricing with an uptick of around 400% seen during peak hours in addition to a steady increase in base journey pricing.