Goodbye taxi… see you, Grab


By Fa Abdul

Dear Encik Shamsubahrin Ismail,

I read in the news that you are urging the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) to start imposing fines on customers of Uber and Grab as a way to discourage people from relying on such ride-sharing services.

I realise you have good intentions as you are merely trying to save the taxi industry from being killed off by Uber and Grab.

As a consumer who has used both services, I would like to explain why I would still prefer the ride-sharing services even if SPAD decides to impose a fine on me as proposed by your goodself.

  • First of all, many taxi drivers are rude. They smoke while driving. They spit out of the window while driving. They treat customers like idiots. They curse other road users while driving. They flash rude hand gestures to others while driving. They switch lanes recklessly. And when they don’t, they plod along like a buffalo pulling a heavy cart.
  • Many taxis are in a dilapidated state. The seats are shabby and smelly. The vehicles squeak as they make their way down the road, making one worry if they are even roadworthy to begin with.
  • Many taxi drivers are unhygienic. Some leave bottles of yellow-coloured liquid rolling around inside the vehicle. Most taxis smell of pee.
  • Many taxi drivers refuse to use the meter. In turn, they overcharge. So if you are desperate enough to get to your appointment on time, you have to part with huge chunks of money.Before Uber and Grab came on the scene, it was common to see passengers walking from taxi to taxi begging to be taken to a particular destination. For some reason, taxi drivers would flat refuse to budge if they didn’t like the area you were headed to.

The truth is, Encik Shamsubahrin, when I ride with Uber or Grab, my journey is usually pleasant. Even old, small cars are well-maintained and offer a comfortable ride. The drivers are very polite and mindful of the customers – they check if the customer is comfortable with the air-conditioning level and music volume. The drivers are friendly and helpful – many times they’ve helped me carry my grocery bags to the apartment lift. The drivers neither speed nor smoke in the car or text while driving.

Today, I no longer take taxis, not if I have an option to ride with Uber or Grab. I am sorry to be the one to break it to you, but I am not alone.

There are many like me who support Uber and Grab – not because it is trendy but simply because we have had enough of taxi drivers and the heartaches they’ve caused us. Even during peak hours when the ride-sharing services become expensive, many are still willing to choose Uber or Grab.

Encik Shamsubahrin Ismail, if you are serious about saving the taxi industry, I suggest you stop blaming passengers and start winning us over instead.

In order to regain our support, I advise you and all taxi drivers in Malaysia to ride with Uber or Grab for one month and note some points on how to improve your service.

Insya Allah, if you are willing to do that, there may still be a chance to save the taxi industry. But rest assured, winning our support back, is not going to be an easy road.

Good luck.

Fa Abdul is an FMT columnist.

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