Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Taxi Driver Perspective: Be a Smarter Passenger

'Sir Nelspruit' informs the following on 10/09/2012:

Let me offer some advise, tips and explanations for the taxi passengers.

Now not all of these advise/explanations may sound reasonable, especially if 1 adopts the attitude - Look, the passengers are paying for a service, they deserve to accorded a superior service (where possible) and have every right to demand or have high expectations, - in short - The Customer Is Always Right Policy.
Which on paper, no one can argue, but sometimes the situation on the ground or reality is different, and the passenger has to accede some (to the driver) or forgo some expectations.

The primary duty of the driver is to send the passenger in the shortest/cheapest route to his/her destination, unless otherwise directed. That is the service the customer is paying for, this is the basic requirement, which also includes safety and in relative comfort.
So in order to fulfill/ensure this, here are some things a passenger can do, must understand, expect and sometimes accept.

a) There is almost always no such thing as the Cheapest. Shortest and Fastest route. (There might be some instances but I think it's only like 5% of the time). Here we are assuming normal traffic, not rush hour or when congested.

Fastest normally means taking an expressway, with no traffic lights to worry. And expressways are usually constructed to go around (not into) estates, meaning a loop. So that means going longer distances, as such you will usually pay more, but arrive faster.

Shortest and invariably, cheapest, means you go through normal roads directly to your destination, but you will of course be subject to traffic lights. But if the traffic lights change normally (no congestion at intersections) or if you get a 'green flow' of lights, your fare will almost always be cheaper than going the expressway route . Eg if from Yishun you wanna go to Bishan J8, via the CTE exit AMK Ave 1, you will arrive faster than if you went via Lentor, AMK Ave 6 and 8.

So make up your mind, which you prefer and instruct the driver, and this leads to.....

b) Inform the driver of your destination and instruct him on the route your prefer. Do not assume he will know the route you had intended, unless it's very obvious, say from Clark Quay to Spize River Valley.

Signal your intentions early, don't wait until the last moment or after he's passed the exit or turn off point you wanted. If you go to and from work in a particular way it's better to advise, something I try to ask pax obviously going or coming from work. They are so used to particular route, whether long or short, any deviation can cause anxiety especially if one is running late for work.
Give directions where possible, and if the driver asks for it, please give it instead of being frustrated. Some drivers are new, but some like myself, also don't know the way around certain estates, or only know 1 or maximum 2 ways, which might not be the one you want or it might be much longer.

I know there are some drivers who simply cannot accept being told how or what to do, and they take offence, which is silly and wrong. Unless it's very obvious, then this becomes irritating being reminded where to turn when I already notified you I know the route. But this is a small matter for drivers, but can quite important for passengers. Besides I mean why should you pay more for something you always pay at a certain price day in, day out? I know, I won't be happy about it.

I concede there are definitely some, who will 'act blur' purposely take a longer route in order to gain a few extra dollars. So you should nip this in the bud and give directions. If the driver insists on going his own way ignoring yours or starts to drive erratically, do not get into further arguments, as he's holding the wheel and angry road users inevitably get involved in accidents sooner or later. Instead take a video of this and inform Lee Fong and she'll advise on the steps you need to take. If at any point you feel in danger, call the police, giving your location or intended destination. I'm sure the 999 operator will be able to advise you accordingly.

If the driver just goes the long way or ignores your route, then can still report. Again Lee Fong will advise. However if the driver advises your route might not be such a good idea, say a congestion is ahead / along the way, or he has a better (cheaper or faster) route, it might not be a bad idea to accept his advise.

c) Do not wait too long for a taxi, when there are none available. I think 20-25 mins should be the absolute maximum. Or if after 15-20 mins, still no cab, try booking for one. I mean it's $3.30, which is better, spend that $3.30 or keep waiting for 30 mins or more?

If after calling or IPhone booking, you still can't get through. No point in continuing to wait, call and get more frustrated. Take a bus or train to a location where more taxis are available, or take the bus/train home altogether. Or if you need to take a cab, then wait until the demand subsides.

Waiting at the end of 1 way streets, or the last few taxi-stands in a 1 way street, is not a good idea during the peak of demand, as you'll be served last, if at all.
Unfortunately there is also a CBD surcharge ($3) from 5pm to midnight, meaning that the areas just preceding the zone, might be very hard to procure a cab. If you are waiting at Arab Street, Raffles Hospital, Scotts Road, Keppel Road, Cantoment Road, Outram MRT etc, these are not good locations for catching a cab. Why? Because if the driver drives 500m - 800m more, he will be in the zone and be able to collect that extra $3.

This is wrong you protest, and I accept that, but practically isn't this the obvious thing to do? Isn't it human nature? Another 500m, not even 10 secs, you earn $3, wouldn't you do it if you were in his shoes? You might say you won't but if you drove a cab, and realised that things like rent and diesel have gone up and you need to earn a certain figure to keep your family going, you'd be forced to drive that extra 500m for the $3.

So don't wait just outside the zone for a lengthy period, if there are no cabs available. Walk that 500m, and pay the $3 for saving your time and avoiding getting angry and frustrated. 
Thank you for sharing these pointers!

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