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Taxi Drivers Struggle With Less Than RM50 Per Day

Taxi Drivers Struggle With Less Than RM50 Per Day

Taxi drivers lament they won’t survive long with competition from e-hailing services

Fernando Fong

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Popular e-hailing service like Grab has undoubtedly affected the taxi industry.

Taxi drivers in Klang Valley said the difficulties they faced in getting passengers over the past few years have only worsened.

According to a report by Kosmo, most taxi drivers and operators strive to earn between RM50 to RM60 a day.

This was revealed by a taxi association member in Shah Alam known as Abdul Rahim.

I don’t know how long I can survive. It’s hard to get RM50 a day. Last time, we used to be able to earn RM200 to RM300 a day. On weekdays, we earn more because more people would go out shopping or sightseeing.

Taxi driver Abdul Rahim

Legacy Burdens

Back in the days before the advent of e-hailing, many taxi drivers had paid several thousand ringgit each as a deposit for taking delivery of a new cab from taxi companies.

Accordingly, many signed rental-purchase agreements without fully understanding the contract and commitment.

The situation is made more complicated by the method of calculating monthly installments based on daily rates.

This resulted in taxi drivers not being able to afford the car installment and even association fees.

Abdul Rahim said the situation worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic season.

At times, they could only earn less than RM30 a day, and there are days when there is no income at all. Many of my friends had to hand back their cabs to taxi companies and switch to other jobs, such as truck and bus drivers, to survive.

Taxi driver Abdul Rahim

Abdul Rahim added that previously, his association had almost 50 taxi drivers, but now the number has been reduced to 23 people.

A Low-Income Trap

There are some who plan to quit if this situation continues.

The same situation was experienced by a taxi driver in Subang Jaya known as Rahmat, 66, who said his income had dropped by 50 to 70 percent over the past few years.

Many of my friends have switched to e-hailing. But for those as old as me, wanting to use a smartphone is also ‘complicated’. After all, to join e-hailing, there needs to be a new vehicle.

Subang Jaya taxi driver Rahmat

Rahmat said as long as his taxi can still move and has passengers, he will continue to drive the taxi even though it’s not as ‘lively’ as before.

Too Little, Too Late

It’s not that the government did not help.

In 2009, the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) increased the fare of budget taxis to RM0.87 per km and RM17.14 per hour.

Fares were pegged at 10 sen for every 115 meters and 21 seconds.

In April 2013,  the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) introduced Teksi 1Malaysia (Teks1M).

Teksi 1Malaysia (TEKS1M). (Credit: Facebook)

Under the scheme, taxi drivers can purchase Proton Exora at a special price and use it as a taxi.

Some 1,000 Teks1M permits were distributed to individual drivers with 697 in the Klang Valley, 251 in Johor and 52 in Penang.

In 2015, SPAD increased budget taxi fares to RM1.25 per km and RM25 per hour.

Fares for Teksi 1Malaysia (TEKS1M) were also increased to RM4 starting fare, RM1.50 per km and RM30 per hour in Greater Kuala Lumpur. In Penang, it was increased to RM1.75 per km and RM35 per hour.

But the writing was already on the wall for taxi drivers by then.

Their demise hastened when Uber was introduced in Malaysia in 2014 at a starting fare of RM1.50, RM0.55/km and RM12/hour.

In comparison, budget taxis were charging RM3, RM0.87/km and RM17.14/hour.

To this day, the government continues to help out taxi drivers from time to time.

READ MORE: Taxi Drivers Must Renew Licenses To Qualify For BPN Aid

Perhaps it’s better to let the market forces dictate the survival of the taxi industry than to have the government hand out temporary relief measures.

The Chinese have a saying, it’s better to suffer short-term pain so that one will not have to suffer long-term pain.

It’s better to just get it over with, rather than prolong the agony.

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