As a taxi driver of almost 20 years, I believe there are many more unreported cases of fare evasion than official figures indicate ("Taxi fare cheats to pay higher price for offence"; last Saturday).
A victimised cabby can report a fare evasion case to the company and get half the fare reimbursed.
However, old-timers who encounter these cheats would usually move on without reporting them, as experience has taught us that the time spent reporting and getting reimbursed is better used in picking up other passengers to recoup the loss.
It is commendable that the authorities intend to revise the penalties for fare evaders.
But would it do any good?
Fare evaders are extremely difficult to nab, and they employ tricks, deception and lies to get out of paying.
Fare evasion is also a non-seizable offence. Hence, a victim who wants the offender charged in court has to waste time and resources to do so. Time is important to cabbies, and it is not worth the hassle for such a small sum of money.
Some fare evaders may also be doing it for the thrill. Hence, high fines or jail terms will not deter them.
Therefore, a solution such as requiring passengers to deposit a minimum amount of, say, $10, into a transparent box in the taxi at the start of the journey should be implemented.
If fare evasion happens, at least the cabby would not lose too much.
Alternatively, passengers can be required to hand over an identity card, passport or any card with their photographs and addresses at the start of the journey. This will be returned at the end of the trip.
Fare cheats should be stopped with radical solutions as soon as possible, as cabbies have suffered long enough.
Seah Kian Chong