The Case for Minicab Companies

The taxi fare increases have led me to ask, what is the fundamental problem with the current oligopoly of taxis in Singapore? I don't believe that there isn't enough supply. The long, snaking queues leading from Changi Airport, from certain shopping centres provide plenty of evidence otherwise. YES, people have always said, when you need one they aren't there. But that's the same of pretty much anything, ATMs, Buses, etc. Even if it IS a question of supply, my proposed solution may go some way to alleviate the problem.

The inspiration for my solution comes from London, where yes, the quinessential London taxicab is available. But if one was to do a bit of digging will realise that there is also an alternative. Minicabs, or basically chauffered car services would be an ideal solution if you know your travel plans in advance. Yes, when I tweeted this, people immediately derided me as insane, the government will regulate it to death, or something or other. But the fact of the matter is, Minicab companies, survive purely on pre-booked traffic. One can only hire a minicab in advance, and the price is either usually pre-agreed, or based on a meter. This more flexible approach fosters competition among taxi companies, to offer the best price for the best car to the customer. The other problem is of course, the Taxi Unions, they have a lot of control over price setting and even who can join the union and the cab companies. I suspect if one was to liberalise the taxi or private transport provision in Singapore, this problem would either go away or become less of an issue, as these private operators will be able set up independently or with a few colleagues and just do their own thing.??

Saying all this – my brilliant plan could probably be scuppered by a few things, among which is the high cost of vehicles in Singapore, the Ick factor of not trusting a "new fangled" thing, or even the high cost that needs to be charged to make things profitable for these private car drivers. But if the UK, a member of the EU with it's directives and ordnances, can make private minicab companies work, maybe there's hope for Singapore afterall.

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