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Joe Le Taxi De Singapore

If you ever come to Singapore, you would be impressed with their efficient public transport such as the trains and the buses. They are not short of taxis either, however, these taxis may not be of your service at all time.

After a human-bashing (verbally) dinner with my sister (may or may not be another Erisian) who came for a training trip, we headed for the taxi stand to get her back to her hotel. The moderately long queue didn’t put us off. We thought: this is a highly ‘developed’ country equipped with such efficient public transport system, how difficult is it to get a cab? Moreover, I see taxis on the road all the time, loads of them!

5 minutes. 10 minutes. 20 minutes. The person at the start of the queue stayed unchanged, and the queue got longer. Yes, there were taxis driving into the stand, but they either had the “On Call” sign on, or were just dropping off some passengers. Those with no “On Call” sign on, would come in and pick a random passenger whose destination appealed to them.

What the…

Well, so it looked like you can’t exactly queue for a cab in Singapore – you have to call for one. Obviously, you will have to pay a few dollars extra for a called taxi’s surcharge. Huh… that’s why these taxi drivers prefer to serve those who hire them through the calling service! All for that few dollars extra!

I tried joining the calling queue too, but for the next 20 minutes, the line was busy because the whole Singapore was calling for a cab!

Finally, I got through, and the not very friendly customer service gave me two different cab registration numbers (first come first serve). We quickly came up with an excellent idea that each of us will memorise one number (man, we’re so proud of our great, minds). But before we could even fully utilise that excellent idea, one of the cabs came. It took – to be precise – 36.5 seconds. And why did we queue for 45 minutes in the first place?


My sister and I are at a Taxi stand on Orchard Road, queuing up for a cab, again. Different location, same situation, same frustration, same frequency of cabs, as it was on Monday. The cabs are still mostly on call, or picking up customers whose destinations are in favour of the driver’s.

This time, a bunch of men and women standing right behind us, obviously from Hong Kong or Guangzhou, speaking in Cantonese (we know, because Singaporean Chinese in general can’t speak any dialect thanks to a government policy some years ago, and Malaysian Chinese don’t speak Cantonese with that accent), about how the Singapore taxi service is. I totally agreed with these humans, for once.

What beats me, is the fact that these drivers can manipulate the situation so much, pick and choose passengers, and put on the “on call” light even when they have no passengers; so that they can charge that few extra dollars.

Anyone out there got bitten by the Singapore taxi services before? I bet.

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