The Inevitable Change in Taxi Industry

March 2018 is seen as a month of victory for our Malaysian-born Grab has it has managed to secure a comfortable portion of electronic hailing (e-hailing) market share in Southeast Asia. A deal was struck between Grab and US-born Uber for the latter to cease operating in the Southeast Asia effective 9 April 2018. In return, Uber gets 27.5% stake in Grab. According to Grab’s official website, almost 4 million rides are done on the platform daily. Being a Malaysian-born company, Grab started its operation in Malaysia as MyTeksi in 2012, moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2014 and now it has expanded to more than 142 cities in Southeast Asia.

KL Tower
KL Tower

During its initial days of operation as a car sharing service, many taxi drivers oppose it. We have had numerous protests in the heart of Kuala Lumpur to oppose the e-hailing services. The government and its affiliated agencies were pressured to intervene in order to safeguard the interest of taxi drivers and companies. The situation became worse as the taxi drivers tend to take matters into their own hands. On 28 June 2016, a 35-year old Grab driver was attacked by irate taxi drivers as he was about to pick up a passenger outside the MidValley Megamall. Meanwhile, on 20 June 2016, an Uber driver was attacked at KL Sentral station and one of his passengers was injured as an angry taxi driver dragged them out of the car.

Let us face the reality. In the past, the Malaysian government and private sectors within their respective capacities have tried to improve the system. Exclusive access and waiting areas were assigned to numerous shopping malls, airports and other points of attraction. Besides, NGV, a cheaper vehicle fuel alternative was also introduced to key areas in Malaysia, especially in the Klang Valley area. The government has also demonstrated its commitment to assisting taxi drivers by making NGV more affordable for them. According to Malaysia: Natural Gas Industry Annual Review 2012 report published by Malaysian Gas Association, the Malaysian government has spent almost RM 28 billion in the form of various subsidies for natural gas, NGV included.

Despite the numerous improvement methods, many taxi drivers suffer from an attitude problem. It is common to hear tourists complain about being overcharged and violent driving behaviour of the drivers. On 17 December 2016, Malaysians got a shock of their life when two French tourists were charged RM 800 for a short ride from KLCC to National Mosque. While stern actions have been taken by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) on the said taxi operator, over the years, the overcharging and bad driving practice have shown no signs of abating.

To combat the negative attitudes of the taxi drivers, many solutions were proposed. Fares are regulated, and meter usage was made compulsory for all Klang Valley taxi drivers. Anybody still remembers the mandatory “no haggling” signage on our taxis? Unfortunately, our tourists are able to read that sign and still being overcharged by the taxi drivers. The blatant disregard of the law and guidelines have frequently drive tourists and authorities to the wall but not enough has been done to solve the problem. One The Star reporter had even gone undercover to find how deep the problem is. In one article published on 7 Oct 2012 on the news portal, one shocking finding was revealed: only 1 out of 11 taxi drivers in KL followed the regulated fare.

Years of bad service and the advent of smartphones with GPS technology seems to provide a right recipe for e-hailing. As the smartphones get more advanced and affordable, it has opened up a slew of new possibilities, which includes e-hailing. In the early days of e-hailing, many of the drivers were existing taxi drivers. As the years passed by, more people signed up to drive for e-hailing services, citing money-making opportunities and flexible work arrangements as their primary factors in doing so. Besides, the booking and driver review system have improved the service availability and reliability, thus making it more appealing to the users.

After several years of using Grab, the service is no longer a stranger to us. More people do no longer consider purchasing new cars, especially in the heavily-congested areas. Considering how difficult it was to use a taxi service before, there is no point in going back to the old trend. It is now the time for us to move on and think about possible transport advancements in the future.

New Bus Network for Greater Kuala Lumpur

Effective December 1st 2015, RapidKL has revamped its bus network, dividing the bus network into eight corridors, namely

  1. Ampang Corridor
  2. Sg Besi Corridor
  3. Lebuhraya Persekutuan Corridor
  4. Jalan Ipoh Corridor
  5. Cheras Corridor
  6. Klang Lama Corridor
  7. Damansara Corridor
  8. Jalan Pahang Corridor
RapidKL New Bus Network Announcement
RapidKL New Bus Network Announcement

The announcement came in quite late, considering the number of commuters using the service daily.

More information is available on RapidKL website, which is accessible at www.myrapid.com.my.

Receipt at Touch ‘N Go Lanes

  
If you need to retrieve receipts at toll plazas, then it might be cumbersome for you if you use Touch ‘N Go or Smart Tag regularly.

It is because if you need receipt, you are left with the following options:

  1. Take receipts at cash lanes
  2. Take receipts at Touch ‘N Go reload lanes

Both of these lanes are also used by 1) Customers paying by cash and 2) Customers reloading their Touch ‘N Go cards.

Therefore, presence of automated receipt dispensing machine is really appreciated. As shown in the picture above, there is a machine to dispense receipts at Touch ‘N Go lanes. This one is seen at westbound Batu Tiga toll plaza. No similar lane can be seen at eastbound one though.

We hope highway concessionnaires can come up with at least one of these lanes at major highways soon. It can surely eliminate congestion at cash and reload lanes.

Electronic Toll Collection at SMART Tunnel beginning 1 Sep 2015

Beginning 1 September 2015, SMART Tunnel will practice electronic toll collection only. By abolishing cash toll collection, the move is to help alleviate traffic problems commonly faced at the tunnel.

  
Similar move can also be seen by AKLEH, which also will abolish cash toll collection at some of its toll plaza.

GST on Public Transport Services in Malaysia

Effective April 1st 2015, Malaysian Government through Royal Malaysian Customs Department, RMCD (Jabatan Kastam Diraja Malaysia, JKDM) will charge Goods and Services Tax (GST) for most products and services offered.

Question: Will there be any GST charge on public transport services?

Answer: No, there will be no GST incurred on public transport services.

Public transport services in Malaysia include KTM Komuter, ETS, KLIA Transit, KLIA Ekspres, taxi and bus services.

Exception: Air transport services

GST will be charged for the following:

  1. Malaysian carrier, domestic flights
  2. Malaysian carrier, international-bound flights from Malaysia

Foreign carriers are not subjected to GST.

PLUS Travel Time Advisory – 2014 Holiday Season

PLUS Expressways Berhad has published a travel time advisory (TTA) for people who will be using highways during peak travel time from December 24th 2014 to January 4th 2014.

 

Here is the advisory for northbound travel:

PLUS E1 E2 Northbound TTA New Year 2015
PLUS E1 E2 Northbound TTA New Year 2015

 

And here is the advisory for southbound travel:

PLUS E1 E2 Southbound TTA New Year 2015
PLUS E1 E2 Southbound TTA New Year 2015

 

This is a good initiative by PLUS and throughout the years we have found this to be a good method of combating congestion during peak travel time. Road users are strongly recommended to follow this advisory to ensure smoothness in your journey.