Been waiting longer than before for a cab in Orchard? You are not alone.
According to Land Transport Authority (LTA) figures, commuters at Singapore's shopping belt are putting up with longer waits for taxis during peak times over the last nine months, when compared with the same period last year.
This is despite moves by several malls and the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) to relieve the cab crunch.
At Far East Plaza, for instance, it takes an average of nearly 14 minutes to get a cab between the 5pm and 6pm rush hour, about double the 7.8 minutes it used to take last year, according to LTA.
For the 9pm to 10pm peak period, commuters are having to wait 15.6 minutes, up from 11.2 minutes, with taxis often getting caught in the traffic snarl along Scotts Road.
Similarly at Paragon, taking a cab in the early evening rush hour means a nearly 15-minute wait, when it was around 10 minutes before.
For the later peak period, the wait has gone up from 4.7 minutes to 6.3 minutes.
On one Friday last month, The Straits Times found that it took between 17.5 and 29 minutes to get a cab at Far East Plaza, Paragon and Ngee Ann City - three of Orchard's busiest malls - between 5pm and 6pm.
During 9pm to 10pm, passengers had to wait for as long as 26.5 minutes.
These sort of waiting times make Orchard Road taxi stands one of the worst places in Singapore to get a cab.
"It's the worst thing I hate about Singapore - standing in taxi queues," said Sri Lankan entrepreneur Irshad Muhseen, 40, as he stood in line at a Ngee Ann City taxi stand.
The commuters whom The Straits Times spoke to there blamed traffic flow around the area for the problem.
"I've spent a lot of time waiting for others to board. There are also cars from the carpark coming out and the lanes are too narrow," said marketing manager Elyn Ho, 29.
A joint effort with LTA last December to tweak traffic light timings so that more cars can exit the mall has only marginally improved traffic flow, said a Ngee Ann City spokesman.
Next month, the mall is meeting LTA again to look at more adjustments.
Over at Paragon, a separate driveway for cabs in August last year, which prevents them from being stuck in a jam with cars entering the mall, has met with relative success.
Cabbies such as Mr Roger Seah said this makes Paragon a more attractive stop.
"We don't waste time being stuck and can do more trips," said Mr Seah, who has been driving for over 10 years.
Still, during the visit by The Straits Times, it took as long as 29 minutes to get a cab there between 5pm and 6pm, leaving commuters calling for more cabs to ply the Orchard area.
Singapore, with 29,000 taxis on the road and more than 90,000 licensed cabbies, has a higher cab-to-resident ratio than most developed cities. But taxi usage here is less than optimal.
Hong Kong's 18,000 taxis, for instance, make about one million trips daily, compared to under a million trips by cabs here.
This is despite commuters, for example, paying a $3 city area surcharge when they take a cab within the city, including Orchard Road and Shenton Way.
Transport analyst Michael Li said more drastic measures might have to be considered to unclog the congestion.
This may include raising Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) charges to "hit people harder in their pockets to stop them from driving into town and (instead) take the public transport".
Orba executive director Steven Goh said Singaporeans, and tourists alike, are turned off by the difficulties in getting a taxi.
"Those carrying shopping bags want the convenience of a comfortable ride home."
Additional reporting by Kash Cheong