5 cabbies cheated of their fares a day
150 cases of taxi fare evasion are reported every month, says Transport Minister. Cabbies say:
He turned violent after a cabby confronted him over an unpaid fare, and it eventually took several policemen to subdue him.
The cabby had approached the passenger for the payment, but he turned around and threw some notes and coins on the ground.
When the cabby, who appeared to be in his 60s, tried to pass him the change and receipt for the ride, the 25-year-old replied: "You said I want to run away, right? I give you, lah, all I have. You want to aggravate me right?"
Then he launched into a profanity-laden tirade.
A video of the ruckus, which happened on Sunday morning (Nov 6), was uploaded on Facebook page Connextaxi.
It was taken by a resident living near Block 868, Woodlands Street 83, where the incident took place.
The passenger became so agitated that he eventually had to be pinned down by five policemen.
A police spokesman confirmed that the man was arrested for disorderly behaviour, and investigations are ongoing.
Yesterday, Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan told Parliament that every month, there are 150 taxi fare evasion cases out of 700,000 taxi trips.
And these are only the cases that are reported to taxi operators.
Cases that involve unidentified fare evaders - which are harder to resolve - make up 65 per cent, he said, in reply to Nominated Member of Parliament Randolph Tan.
Mr Khaw said: "LTA (Land Transport Authority) was able to recover fares for about half of all cases referred to it for investigation. To further deter fare evasion, we introduced higher penalties for fare evaders in May this year.
"If found guilty, fare evaders are liable to a fine of up to $1,000 for first-timers, while subsequent offenders may be fined up to $2,000, or jailed up to six months, or both.
"It is also mandatory for offenders to make restitution payment to taxi drivers."
When asked if the authorities could help the cabbies directly, he said that though the Government sympathised with the drivers, the taxi operator should bear the primary responsibility.
Fare evasion is something Mr Joseph Ho, 56, who has been a cabby for over a decade, is familiar with.
One passenger gave Mr Ho his wallet as "insurance" to wait for him while he went into his home to get money to pay for the ride, Mr Hotold The New Paper.
"But when I opened the wallet, there was only paper inside, nothing else. I shouted at him. Luckily there were people walking around and they heard me. The passenger was very embarrassed.
"I told him, 'Boy, come and see your wallet. Why did you give me this kind of wallet?' Only then did he pull out another wallet from his other pocket," said Mr Ho.
In another incident, an inebriated young man said he left his wallet with his friend. Then he said he would withdraw money from an ATM.
Finally, he said he would go home to get the money, but the passenger never returned. After 15 minutes, Mr Ho went to look for him.
"I saw him on a balcony on the third storey (of his block), so I went up and knocked on all the doors on that floor...
"One of them was the right one and the door was answered by the passenger's mother. The passenger then ran out, saying he forgot to grab the money. His mother tried to tip me (for the trouble caused), but I just took the actual fare from her. I told her to tell her son not to cheat next time," said Mr Ho.
He added with a chuckle: "When you have driven for more than 10 years, this is what you get."
When such incidents occur, another cabby, Mr Jason See Toh, said he feels a mix of anger and helplessness.
Mr See Toh, 54, said: "We feel cheated, definitely, and upset. But it's part and parcel of driving. What can we do? It's easier to just let it go and move on.
"We can choose to report it to the police but it takes very long, especially if we don't know who the fare evader is. It's not worth it."
"LTA was able to recover fares for about half of all cases (of taxi fare evasion) referred to it for investigation. To further deter fare evasion, we introduced higher penalties for fare evaders in May this year."
- Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan