A letter posted in the Straits Times forum, entitled ” Surcharge spurs cabs to go into CBD, says LTA”
Written by the director of Media Relations from LTA, Ms Helen Lim. She mentions that taxi companies have implemented a city area surcharge that is payable on trips originating from within the Central Business District (CBD), from Monday to Saturday during the peak periods between 5pm and midnight, but it does not seem to be so in reality.
The Land Transportation Authority (LTA)’s site states that the City Area Surcharge of $3.00 is from 5:00 PM to Midnight, Monday to Sunday & Public Holidays. She might have confused the days with the rule on when the taxi drivers cannot pick up or alight passengers at the CBD area from the bus lanes that are in operation from 7.30AM to 8PM, Monday to Saturday except Sunday & Public Holidays.
Apart from this minor mistake, the letter fails to explain how the surcharge will encourage taxi drivers to enter the CBD area in comparison to the suggestion made by Mr Tan to reduce the ERP rates for taxis.
Instead of encouraging taxi drivers to enter the CBD as the basis of its implementation, it serves primarily as a subsidy to the taxi driver for having to drive into an ERP controlled area to pick up his/her passengers.
In other words, simply passing the cost over to the customer to have the taxi enter the CBD.
And it might be wrong to say that taxi should be subjected to ERP charges because like all other cars, they occupy space and therefore contribute to congestion. Taxis in Singapore are considered as public form of transportation and used by the general public to travel from one place to another. Has there been any research or study whether taxis contribute to the bulk of the congestion in the CBD areas to justify the need to have ERP charges applied to them using the rational of LTA? And whether will taxis relieve the congestion in CBD by increasing dependency on taxis for transportation instead of owning a personal car?
If taxis could be made more readily available by reducing the ERP charges to entice them to enter CBD area to search for customers, and also lower the cost involved in hailing a cab in the CBD area. Why not?
Is there a definitive proof that ERP reduce congestion in the city area or have people learnt to live with the ERP charges?
Share your thoughts in the comments below.