TRANSIT takes note of two articles in the Star newspaper highlighting the new CVLB rules & expectations for taxi drivers.
CVLB introduces new rules to clean-up KL taxis (The Star)
Thursday March 25, 2010
Stories by PRIYA MENON and VISHALENE SIVARAMAN
TAXIS in Kuala Lumpur have begun sporting big ‘No Haggling’ stickers on the sides of their doors as part of new rulings imposed by the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB).
[TRANSIT: Please note that these are not ‘new rulings’ as the article describes. They have been in place for a long time, but they have been ignored for an equally long time!]
The rulings, which are aimed at improving the services of taxis, also include the mandatory issuance of receipts to all passengers and list down a variety of compoundable offences.
The move comes after complaints continued to flow that taxi drivers were fleecing customers in spite of a hike in metered fares.
A StarMetro team recently took to the streets to see if the new rulings have had any effect on the situation.
[TRANSIT: Has anyone noticed that the additional stickers are making KL taxies look even uglier than ever? And why should a “No Haggling” sticker even be necessary? Shouldn’t it be obvious to everyone?]
Four out of six taxis we hopped into used the meter without being asked to and the drivers insisted that they had always done so.
[TRANSIT: 4 out of 6. That is sad!]
Our journey began at Lorong Maarof, Bangsar, where we hopped into a taxi to the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) station in Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin.
The cab was driven by Ng Hong Foh, 62, who has been driving his taxi for five years.
“Some of the other drivers used to reprimand me for using the meter but I would not feel that I’ve earned an honest wage if I cheated my passengers,” Ng said.
Ng paid RM8 for the ‘No Haggling’ stickers outside his door and another RM8 for the list of offences.
[TRANSIT: WHAT????? Why are the drivers paying for these stickers? Is the CVLB so poor that it cannot include the stickers as part of the permit that taxi drivers receive? Shouldn’t the stickers be free????]
From the KTMB station, we ventured to Bukit Bintang and proceeded to KLCC from there. Both these areas are hotspots noted for pricey taxi fares but, this time around, the drivers also used the meter.
Our joy was shortlived when we met a driver Muru (not his real name) who charged us a flat rate of RM15 to Petaling Street despite sporting the ‘No Haggling’ sign.
Muru was parked along the road and insisted that all the taxis charged the same rate or perhaps higher.
“I’m charging you a cheaper rate, the others would probably charge you RM20 or more,” he claimed.
According to him, he is left with little choice as the monthly payment and maintenance of a rented taxi costs about RM1,500.
“Those who have their own taxis can afford to use the meter but people like us have to make ends meet,” Muru said.
To make matters worse, he said he would be returning empty-handed from Petaling Street as there was an alleged turf barrier.
[TRANSIT: We think they mean ‘turf war’]
He claimed that some taxi drivers had conquered certain locations within the city and other taxis were not allowed to poach passengers.
At the Chempaka LRT station, a group of taxi drivers had banded together in an attempt to rake in unreasonable profits by ignoring the meters.
The drivers divide passengers among themselves based on their destinations. One taxi driver charged RM4 per head for three people to a destination where the metered rate would cost RM4.50.
THE taxi associations say they have seen positive results in drivers’ attitudes since the new rulings were introduced.
[TRANSIT: Of course they would say that.]
According to the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor’s Taxi Drivers’ Welfare Association’s S. Augustine, a survey showed that 70% of the drivers had started using the meter.
[TRANSIT: What do public transport users have to say? Are you also seeing a 70% compliance?]
“Since the guidelines were introduced, members of the public have become more aware of their rights and insist the drivers use the meter,” he said.
When asked for the reason behind those who didn’t use the meter, Augustine said many of the drivers were forced to pay a hefty monthly rental to their companies.
“These people have no benefits as most of it goes to their company and the company makes the profit. This is why they resort to fixing the rates,” he added.
[TRANSIT: So, the truth comes out – rent seeking companies taking advantage of the drivers? So why don’t the Associations band together and stop the practice? Maybe because the rent-seeking companies are involved with rent-seeking politicians?]
Augustine believed the problem could be solved if more individual permits were given out. He said by doing so, they would only have to pay RM400 a month to the banks.
“Their costs would be reduced to only 50% and that would give them more leverage in the matter. This would definitely reduce the number of taxi drivers who do not use the meter,” Augustine said.
Meanwhile, CVLB director Datin Naimah Ramli said the number of complaints under the CVLB Act 334 had increased from 171 in Nov to Dec 2009 to 190 from Jan to Feb 2010. The offences carry a maximum fine of RM300.
“There has been an 11% increase but this could be because many passengers are excited about the campaign and are eager to play a part now,” Naimah added.
[TRANSIT: What say you, public transport users? Are you excited and eager to play a part?]
However, she said it was still too early to determine if the campaign was working.
“We are carrying out on-going operations but the people’s feedback is important. We urge members of the public to come forward and lodge their complaints,” Naimah said.
She said the public could not rely on CVLB officers alone as one officer sometimes had to keep track of 100 taxi drivers.
“We do not divulge informants details so the public need not worry. They should also play a role in this.
“We have 31,000 taxis in operation and we can’t keep tabs on all of them at the same time,” she added.
[TRANSIT: But you could certainly call for more officers to help make a difference.]
Among the list of common offences are:
- Not using the meter
- Extra charges above metered rates
- Haggling for fare
- Refusing to take passengers to desired destination
- Using longer, more time-consuming routes to passengers’ desired destination.
The above set of articles from The Star hasa great deal of interesting information. It is nice to see that, as more attention is being paid to matters like public transport, more information is finally coming to light.
There is not much that can be done about rent-seeking politicians and greedy people – but the public can help improve public transport and taxi service by giving feedback and not giving up until the system is improved.
If you have a complaint about taxi service, please call the CVLB Hotline at 1-800-88-96-00 IMMEDIATELY – don’t wait until it is too late.
Try to have the following information at hand when you call.
- Registration Number of taxi
- Nature of Offence (e.g. refusing to take passenger, refusing to use meter, smoking in taxi, etc.)
You can also send the above information to MySMS at 15888 – just remember to start your SMS with ADUAN LPKP
TRANSIT invites you to comment on the rulings and the improvements to taxi service in the Klang Valley. Let’s be fair and celebrate the improvements and the good drivers, and identify the recalcitrant, stubborn drivers and do what we can to get rid of them.
Please comment below, at twitter.com/transitmy (@transitmy) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance!