Airport cab queues long, but manageable

The queue for a taxi at Changi Airport's Terminal 2 at 10.50pm last Friday. Long queues may form at peak hours on some days but, even then, they tend to move quickly.
The queue for a taxi at Changi Airport's Terminal 2 at 10.50pm last Friday. Long queues may form at peak hours on some days but, even then, they tend to move quickly.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Imagine joining a queue with another 120 people standing in front of you. This was the situation at Changi Airport's Terminal 3 (T3) on a recent weekday night.

Indeed, such long queues are not uncommon these days at Changi Airport, which handled a record 54.1 million passengers last year.

A contributor to citizen journalism website Stomp by the name of Max had earlier this year sent in a picture of a long queue and said: "Something needs to be done to improve the congestion at the Terminal 2 taxi stand during peak hours."

But as a team from The Straits Times (ST) observed, while the lines were long, waiting time did not exceed 10 minutes. It had checked out the taxi queues at Changi Airport on a Wednesday last month from 8am to 11pm.

In the case of the queue at T3, the wait was less than seven minutes.

Passengers were impressed.

Mr Naga Chua, 39, a consultant, said: "The queue is very organised, so it is good. It is actually easier to get taxis here than in town."

A 37-year-old permanent resident from Indonesia who works in finance and gave his name only as Mr Moses, said: "I have no issues with the queue as it keeps moving."

Although long queues formed after several flights landed at about the same time, staff were efficient in directing passengers to alternative queueing sites. No queue lasted more than 10 minutes.

Mr Robin Goh, a spokesman for Changi Airport Group, said it has introduced measures to deal with the queues. These include adding staff to direct passengers to taxi stands, encouraging taxi drivers to go to the airport, and putting up TV screens to provide live feeds about the queue length at the alternative taxi stand within each terminal.

Taxi drivers interviewed said they were surprised to learn of the complaints. One, who did not wish to be named, said of the passengers: "When they step out of the plane, everything goes smoothly, then suddenly they have to wait in a queue. This may lead to them to perceive the queue as very long."

Mr Jimmy Wee, executive secretary of the National Taxi Association, said that based on the group's observations, while taxi numbers may dip from 4pm to 5pm when taxi drivers often change shifts, there is still a constant stream of taxis at the airport.

Long queues could also arise from passengers' reluctance to go to alternative taxi stands. Many simply joined the nearest queue in sight, even if it is longer. Said Mr Graahim Robson, 54, a tourist from Australia: "I didn't know about the other taxi stand but I'm more than OK waiting for a taxi here anyway."

A queue usher, who wants to be known as Mr Lim, said: "It takes time to load luggage into a cab, so a queue forms. But it usually moves quickly."

• Additional reporting by Gilaine Ng and Toh Ting Wei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 08, 2015, with the headline 'Airport cab queues long, but manageable'. Print Edition | Subscribe