Taxi firms have only themselves to blame

The National Taxi Association (NTA) and taxi companies have themselves to blame for the predicament they are in now ("Fare cuts by Uber, Grab will hurt sector: Taxi body"; April 24).

For the longest time, commuters have been crying out for change, but they have been largely ignored.

Our taxi system is so convoluted, with so many layers of surcharges, that it is virtually impossible to remember what the charges are.

It seems no other country in the world has such a convoluted system of surcharges.

The authorities may argue that in spite of all these surcharges, our taxi fares are still relatively cheaper than those in many developed countries.

This is true. But, it is also true that when you need a taxi in those countries, you can get one without much difficulty.

I have found that it is easier to flag down a taxi in busy New York City than in Singapore. Our taxis are always "On Call".

On many occasions, I have seen rows of empty taxis waiting along Queen Street with their "On Call" sign turned on.

I suspect many of these taxi drivers, rather than plying the streets to look for passengers, are just waiting for commuters to make a phone booking so that they can earn a couple more dollars from the surcharges.

Thus, the system is driving the wrong behaviour.

Taxi companies and the NTA should stop complaining about unfair competition. They had a near monopoly for a long time.

Now, the day of reckoning has come. Uber and Grab have disrupted the industry, and the only ones getting hurt are taxi companies and taxi drivers.

Patrick Tan Siong Kuan