FEEDBACK from all
stakeholders is the anchor of any sound public policy.
Bearing this in
mind, the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has made engaging the public
and industry players the main thrust of a taxi fare review currently undertaken
nationwide.
The exercise kicked
off with the launch of an engagement programme with consumers and taxi industry
players on Oct 18 in Kuala Lumpur by SPAD chairman Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar.
Focus group
discussions were held on the same day, attended by consumer groups, taxi
drivers and taxi operators. The disabled, student and youth associations,
representatives from the tourism and hospitality industry and logistics and
transport professionals and academicians also attended the sessions that later
continued in the Klang Valley, Penang and Johor Baru. The discussions have
since been carried out in Malacca and Ipoh.
Over the next two
months, it will be held in Kuala Terengganu, Alor Star, Langkawi, Kuantan and
Temerloh. SPAD’s public engagement programme is unprecedented in the history of
taxi fare review in the country.
Engagement policy
receives full support
The move to interact
and engage the public has received all-round endorsement and support, with
stakeholders hailing the move as crucial and bold.
SPAD chief executive
officer Mohd Nur Ismal Mohamed Kamal said the move, which would be the norm in
the drawing up of policies in the future, was a milestone for the
three-year-old entity.
“We are not
only engaging people in the industry but also the public. This approach is
taken because we want the views of everyone to be heard and considered.”
Among the consumer
groups that participated in the discussions were the Federation of Malaysian Consumers
Association (Fomca), Selangor and Wilayah Consumer Association (SAC), Persatuan
Pengguna Islam Malaysia (PPIM), Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs
(KPDNKK), Koperasi Usahawan Pengguna Islam Malaysia (Kupim) and Consumers
Association of Penang (CAP).
Representatives of
disabled groups included those from Majlis Kebangsaan Bagi OKU (MKBOKU),
Persatuan Damai Orang-Orang Kurang Upaya, Malaysian Association for the Blind,
Society of the Orthopaedically Handicapped (Pocam), Cheshire Home Selangor,
Koperasi OKU Pulau Pinang Bhd and Pertubuhan Pembangunan Orang Buta Malaysia
(PPOBM).
The tourism and
hospitality industry discussions were attended by Malaysian In bound Tourism
Association (Mita), Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta),
Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) and Ministry of Tourism and Culture.
Transport and
logistics academicians and professionals who participated were from Universiti
Teknologi Mara’s (UiTM) Malaysia Institute of Transport (Mitrans), Universiti
Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Sustainable Urban Transport Research Centre (Sutra) and
Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport Malaysia (CILT-M). So far,
students from UiTM, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia,
Olympia College, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Raffles University Iskandar and
Politeknik Sultan Ibrahim have been involved in the discussions.
New fares lead to
better service
One common and clear
message emerging from the discussions is that the nation’s taxi industry has a
lot of room for improvement, chiefly in providing better services on a par with
those found in other countries.
Another consensus is
that a taxi fare review now is justifiable, and that a new fare structure would
result in better services.
The proposed review
allows the taxi industry to begin addressing some quality of service issues.
Key industry players in the discussions have pledged and also urged their
counterparts to improve services, taking into cognisance that public acceptance
of a fare hike would depend on the quality of service.
SPAD has set two
criteria to be fulfilled for a fare increase. First, the fares, last raised in
2009, need to reflect the actual cost of operations rendered while providing a
fair return to drivers and operators.
The second criteria
is that the new fares must be able to motivate drivers and other stakeholders
to improve services. It should be attractive enough that drivers are willing to
operate during peak hours, to not cherry pick passengers and also to always use
the meter.
SPAD believes that
the two criteria are vital in developing a better taxi service and to ensure
that the industry is healthy and sustainable.
Public engagement is
also carried out through a publicity campaign. Important information such as the
methodology used to determine fares can be found online at
www.spad.gov.my/tfr2013. The public can download the `Taxi Fare Review
Interaction Paper’ and submit views and proposals on the review to SPAD via the
website.
The same information
is also being displayed at 35 locations nationwide, including SPAD state
offices, public transport terminals and shopping malls. Suggestions on taxi
fare can also be submitted at these locations. Feedback can also be given by
post, calling 1-800-22-7723, or going to SPAD’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Stakeholders applaud
SPAD’s public engagement
SPAD’s decision to
engage all stakeholders in the review has been described as a transparent move
in the right direction.
Taxi driver Yazid
Mohamad Yusof said finding a fare structure which was reasonable and fair to
all parties should be the focus of the exercise.
“The last fare
hike was in 2009. But spare parts, fuel, tyres and cost of living have seen
many increases over the years. A new fare structure is long overdue but I think
it should be one that will not cause alarm to the public.”
Yazid, who is a
member of the Shah Alam Taxi Association, felt courses should be held for taxi
drivers as the sessions could help improve the quality of taxi services.
Universiti Teknologi
Mara’s undergraduate Mohammad Nor Fahmi Abd Rahim said SPAD’s engagement policy
should be appreciated and commended.
“It showed
transparency. If other ways are used, some people might not understand and be
satisfied.”
Nor Fahmi said steps
must be taken to address common grouses such as overcharging, refusing a fare
and abuse of taxi permit.
Dr Siti Zaharah
Ishak of Mitrans, meanwhile, proposed that a taxi fare review be carried out
once every two to three years.
She said it was only
fair that taxi drivers were not burdened with high operating costs and they
were able to make a decent income to support their families.
“At the same
time, efforts must be taken to increase the comfort level when using a taxi.
For example, ban the use of old taxis.”
Frankie Lee of the
Malaysian In-bound Tourism Association said any fare increase would mostly be
felt by the locals as compared to foreign tourists, especially those from
countries with stronger currencies.
“Most tourists
have no problem paying as long as the meter is used. If they are happy with the
service, they might even tip the driver.”

To improve the level
of service, Lee proposed that taxi drivers attend courses on ethics and best
practices.