Thursday, January 14, 2010


I've talked about my bus rides and walking, but taxis are another great way to get around town and they can be fairly cheap, especially when sharing.  For work, many people in my office take them.  However, even though they think I'm nuts, I find myself usually opting for a public transport option if available and I can manage the time.  See which you would prefer based on my pros and cons below.

What's great about the taxis:
  • Super quick (w/o traffic jams) - like home from work in under 10 minutes for under $10.
  • Call and have them pick you up whenever and wherever - usually within 5 minutes wait.  Only had a problem once.
  • Roomy - you would not believe the leg room in these cabs.  I would venture to say that most any long-legged American man or woman would be comfortable. 
  • Clean - always clean; not worried about what I might sit in or what that nasty stain is from.  I have never been disgusted or felt uncomfortable getting into a Singapore taxi.  Sometimes you even get surprised with the Mercedes white taxi :) (the others are usually blue as you can see from the picture)
  • No trickery!  I hate being taken advantage of but even though I still don't know my way exactly around Singapore, I never have problems with the drivers here taking me the "long way".  I know because while I haven't learned the road names, I do know my major landmarks.
  • Taxi stands (queues) are easy to find near well-travelled places.  Also, during non-peak, you can usually flag down a taxi pretty easily, especially at bus stops.
Some reasons why I prefer other transport options:
  • Calling for a cab in peak hours, adds $3.50 to your bill - for a short trip, that can be 50% of your overall fare. Pick-up for non-peak is $2.50 I think.  Comparatively, the bus and/or train is almost always under $3.50 for the whole trip.
  • Drivers don't have GPS and don't always know you're address.  I think the public has allowed the drivers to become use to being told where to go - which is not helpful for someone like me that doesn't know where she's going. :) I've always made it in the end, but I make sure to have a specific address or look it up on a map before going.  I have had drivers "phone-a-friend" to find the destination.
  • Car sickness - I get it really bad in Singapore even when I'm not doing anything.  Some drivers like to tap dance on the accelerator and it's very stop-go.  In Bali, the whole day practically in the car and I was reading when we were stopped by traffic, and not a hint of car sickness.  I'm convinced it's the Singaporean taxi drivers (no issues on the bus either).
  • No podcasts.  I like to listen to my iPod while travelling. Due to the fact that I need to give directions or confirm addresses, I can't really turn on the iPod and listen to it. And, I've really come to love my iPod.
  • Impatient drivers.  Some are fast, some are slow, some yield more, some less, but all seem to want you out of the car as soon as they've collected payment.  I'm rarely in the cab with less than two bags and yet as soon as I've recieved my change or signed my credit card receipt, they're saying "Thank you, have a good day" and are ready for you to be out.  I usually get at least 2-3 "thank you's" before getting out of the car like I'm not trying to extricate myself as fast as possible. Good thing tipping is not expected.
  • Taxi drivers can not tell which side is up or down on my black credit card.  Apparently the black card camoflauges the magnetic strip needed to process payment.  I bet 8 times out of 10 the driver uses the wrong side multiple swipes and can't get it to pay the bill.  Okay - I might be mean here - but c'mon it doesn't seem that difficult.  I mean the other side of the card has my name punched through it, so only one side is smooth.  Wouldn't you deduce that that side has the magnetic strip?!

Pictured is the system that cabbies use to get their next call.  If they are in the area, it'll pop up and they can accept or decline.  In the morning, I'm Ms. Wena on their computer screen :) - guess I didn't enunciate my L for Lena.  Many also have automated voices that ask you to "Please buckle your seat belt" when you start and say "Please pay XX.XX dollars" when you've arrived.

For me, the cons out-weigh the pros, if I have flexible time.  The time factor makes or breaks it.  Usually though I do end up taking the bus, walking or the train - in that order. 

One interesting item of note:
I have not confirmed this, but was told that only Singaporeans can be taxi drivers.  This is completely different from my experiences (although not many I must admit) in the U.S. where it doesn't seem like many drivers are actually U.S. born.  My apologies if that is a very narrow-minded, stereotypical assessment.  It was not my intention but only my observation from the few taxis I've taken.

1 comment:

  1. Huh, interesting! I love that the cabis talk to you. A friendly reminder to put on your seatbelt is always nice! A little sucky that they charge so much to pick you up. I think I would take taxis quite a bit, but that probably depends on the public transportation situation. I'm all about time efficiency, especially in the morning! It's nice that the taxis are clean, too. I was with a friend who got sick in a Chicago cab (and not from motion sickness...) and the cabbi wasn't mad at all, he goes, "That happens every night, I just go to the car wash and spray it down." Ew.

    P.S. I heard you and Michelle met up -- that's awesome! I'm going to catch up on her blog now!