Date: Apr 29, 2011
Just saw the youtube for Ms. Sylvia Lim from Workers Party. Talking about PM Lee's Taxi Driver analogy for the PAP's Manifesto. And I suddenly remember this story below...
Normally, when you go to any country, you just hop on to the taxi, and tell the taxi driver where you want to go, and the taxi driver will drive you to the place. In Malaysia, if you can buy a "Taxi Ticket" before you hop on, that will be safest as the price is guarantee to be reasonable. If you get a taxi from a remote area, make sure you have your Google Map on your Mobile Phone to see where the taxi actually bringing you. Otherwise, the meter can start clicking to a very expensive price.
I wanted to share my encounter with this Mr. Tan, a taxi driver in Malaysia. I find it quite unique and makes me think about a lot of things.
So, I was finishing my favorite nasi lemak at Toast Box just outside Boulevard Hotel @ Mid Valley. I was counting the taxi in the queues just in front of the Toast Box. This Chinese taxi driver was looking at my direction. We exchange a few eye contacts. As soon as my colleague finished her tea, we walk towards the taxi and hop on it.
"Plaza Sentral" I told the taxi driver to go to.
The taxi was quite clean. The taxi driver is quite chatty, and we start to talk. And this is where it gets very interesting...
Taxi Driver: Sir, let me ask you this. When you go overseas, and before you hop on to the taxi, do you make observations.
Me: What sort of observations?
Taxi Driver: For me, when I take a taxi, I will always do few things...
Me: Oh, what is it?
Taxi Driver: First, I checked the taxi tyres.
Me: (Surprise to hear the answer) Huh? Why?
Taxi Driver: Checking the tyres will tell you if the taxi driver gotsent his car to servicing or not? Some Taxi drivers don't do that. That will gives you the personality of the taxi drivers. If the tyres is old, and no more patterns, then, I will not hop on to that taxi, and I rather wait.
Me: Oh, I see. (Taxi Driver in Malaysia usually are the owner of the taxi, except for the Blue Taxi belongs to a company)
Taxi Driver: Because, what if it rains and the tyres are not functioning. If the taxi driver do not take care of the tyres, do you think he will take care of the engine? So, what if engine breaks down in middle of no where. All these inconvenience will make you unhappy.
Me: Oh, I see. (So, not only to see the tyres, see if the taxi got any accident dents, etc is equally important).
Taxi Driver: Next, you see the driver. Feel his breathe.
Me: Huh?? Are you sure or not.
Taxi Driver: Sure, To see if the taxi driver is in a good condition to drive the taxi or not. If he drinks alcohol, you straight away can tell, and you should say No to the taxi driver. Look at his eyes, lips, some times can tell you whether he is sick or not. If you can sense that he is no condition to drive the taxi, don't take it.
Me: I see...
We reached the destination, the meter says RM8, I gave him RM10 for a good chat. And I took his name card.
The above conversation actually makes me think deep. I never done what he has explained to me before. Since when you hop on to a taxi and check the tyres and check the breathe of the taxi driver. I can tell you every one of us, flag a taxi, and then, simply hop on it, and tell taxi driver where to go.
May be the taxi in Singapore is very well maintain, and there is very well organized law to govern them. And I suddenly remember, that the taxi fare in Singapore is ain't CHEAP at all. The fact that I always leave my car in the Airport for a short 2 days trip is... the car pack fees is much cheaper than the taxi fare to bring me from my home to the airport and going back. i.e.
S$13.60 for budget Airlines leaving your car overnight there from 8am to next day 4pm
S$40 for T1, T2, T3 leaving your car overnight there for 2 days. (Daily cap is $20).
So, if compare to taking the taxi during peak hours plus ordering the taxi, wow, It can come up to S$30 x 2 for the return fare.
So, yes, our taxi is clean, our taxi is well maintained, and the driver is safe. But one thing that makes me mad is the taxi fare keep increasing. 10-15 years ago, I don't recall it is that expensive. How about, passing thru the ERP, all these cost was passed down to the passengers.
So, the key message from this story is...
1. Do we really check the taxi condition, the driver condition when we get on to the taxi? Do we need to check? I think we should check all the time.
2. In Singapore, taking taxi is safe, too safe, but the fares of ERP, taxi charges are not cheap. And it is constantly increasing and we cannot do anything about it.
So, I don't think it is the driver that is matter, I think we should also think of the policies of public transportations, those who set it. And who can make the people who take the taxi happy.
So, after my meeting at Plaza Sentral, I hop on to another taxi, and oh SHARKS! I forgot about checking the tyres. I forgot about checking the taxi drivers. and I just simply blindly hop on to the taxi. HaHaHaHaHa
It is this video, after I watched, and makes me remember about the taxi story. That is where I woke up.