Taxi companies must improve to compete

Private-hire drivers are not allowed to pick up street hails and operate by meter. They are not treated as taxi drivers, and hence, should not use the taxi stands meant for cabbies.

Therefore, ComfortDelGro is right to ask its cabbies to take photos of errant private-hire drivers (ComfortDelGro targets errant private-hire drivers; July 4).

However, it may be unwise to have cabbies act as proxy law enforcers, because they are not empowered by the Land Transport Authority. It could result in a brawl.

ComfortDelGro and other taxi companies should improve their services to compete instead.

They should standardise their taxis and create an app that is as fast, accurate and efficient as Uber's and Grab's.

A rating system for drivers could be introduced, as customer service is important for a business and customer feedback is essential if it is to improve.

The 12-hour shift for cabbies should also be scrapped. Cabbies may be tired after such a long time on the road and may not be enthusiastic about driving.

Taxi companies need to use smart technology to dispatch cabs to where they are needed, improve route selection and integrate with other forms of public transport.

Training cabbies to use Global Positioning System is also important.

The Land Transport Authority could make the operating fees cheaper, or even abolish them. This will enable taxi rentals and fares to be lowered.

Unless fares are very competitive, taxi companies would be just shooting themselves in the foot.

Private-hire firms are successful because they know what people want.

Taxi companies need to study what Uber and Grab do and improve themselves.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2017, with the headline 'Taxi companies must improve to compete'. Print Edition | Subscribe