Time to revamp taxi operations model in S'pore

We have begun restructuring rail and bus companies. Now we need to restructure taxi companies.

Profitable businesses thrive by remaining lean and mean. The leaner and flatter the organisation structure, the more efficiently and effectively a business accomplishes its mission and vision.

First, hold the primary service provider responsible for service delivery. Taxi drivers are the ones responsible for the delivery of this public transport service.

Second, the reward and compensation structure for giving good service must primarily benefit the direct service providers, not corporate honchos or intermediaries.

With these basic principles in place, taxi drivers must own their taxis and earn a professional licence to do so.

They become entrepreneurs, not taxi hirers under some mammoth taxi company that owns the fleet and keeps the profits for its corporate honchos. They are professional service providers with pride of ownership and service delivery. Their professional licence becomes a transferable asset, like with taxi drivers in a bygone era.

The current taxi companies become taxi-financing/leasing and service maintenance companies, undertaking the initial financial outlay and the ongoing mechanical vehicle maintenance service.

Taxi drivers have to earn enough to pay off the taxi loan and have a reliable service maintenance provider, and to pay for that themselves as self-employed entrepreneurs.

With this structure, we would have taxi drivers who would be eager to get riders and provide a level of service never seen before.

And how much do we have to pay for all these improvements?

Not much more than now.

And no need to hail a taxi by the roadside; just call a toll-free number or use an app to get one.

Everybody is happy, with customers not having to queue and no cruising around by taxi drivers looking for fares.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2017, with the headline 'Time to revamp taxi operations model in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe