Adapt to new public transport landscape, 4PAM tells cabbies

ajit-taxiPETALING JAYA: The Public Transport Users Association (4PAM) is urging the taxi industry to move with the times, stressing that it is the government’s responsibility to provide affordable public transportation.

Following concerns that the new low MRT fares announced by Prasarana earlier this week will finish of the taxi industry, 4PAM president Ajit Jhol said taxi drivers must adapt to the new public transport landscape in the country.

“There is no point protesting. Taxi drivers must recognise that the public transport sector has moved to a new environment and only the tough will survive,” he said.

Yesterday, Big Blue Taxi Services founder Shamsubahrin Ismail had claimed that the government was out to finish off the taxi industry.

Shamsubahrin’s comments came after the announcement by Prasarana that the introductory MRT fares are as low as RM1.

He said as it were, taxi drivers were already badly affected by the competition from ride-sharing services, Uber and Grab.

“Because of the ride-sharing services, the taxi industry has almost collapsed. Now the government has introduced low MRT fares. Where do the taxi industry and the drivers stand now?” Shamsubahrin told FMT.

Ajit said that the public transport industry is under the purview of the government.

“It is the government’s obligation to provide public transport, such as the MRT. The government also has to ensure that people in the city have access to reasonably-priced public transport,” he said.

Ajit added that every public transport operator has got its own market share and the trick is to find which market they are suitable for and price it accordingly.

“They have to look into providing for the niche market which wants exclusive services.

“For example, the disabled. They need vehicles which have wheelchair accessibility. That’s a market opportunity. These are new opportunities and so, taxi drivers have to start thinking creatively.”

Ajit also pointed out that people are also more price sensitive these days.

“When the price of taxis went up in April last year, we told the authorities there is going to be a backlash because people are price sensitive.

“People are now more knowledgeable and if there is an alternative, the people have the right to choose that option.”

Ajit said that the market is changing, so taxi operators should adapt, be more flexible and try to understand the new market environment.

“Taxi operators should adapt, restrategise and find new market opportunities within the public transport industry.”