Disappearing cabs break the cycle
Both the issue of "disappearing" cabs and the proposed solutions (such as ditching the surcharge) are not new.
Yet each time the subject surfaces, it is enough to send people into a tizzy.
Walk the neighbourhoods and you'll hear familiar grumbles from unhappy heartlanders.
Mr Adrian Kok, 33, a corporate communications executive, hates it when he has to flag a taxi just minutes before the peak hour surcharge kicks in.
"You can wait till the cows come home and there will be no cab in sight," he says.
"Even if I call, I can almost expect one to arrive just a minute after the surcharge kicks in."
Mr Kok cabs daily from his Jurong East home to his workplace in North Bridge Road.
Sales assistant Yeo Tingting, 31, finds it hard to get a cab at Orchard Road during peak hours.
"There will be a long queue at the taxi stand, but the line of taxis will be much shorter," she says.
"Then you call for one and within three minutes, a cab arrives."
My colleague, who cannot drive temporarily due to an injury, has been complaining about the cab network too.
She ticks off her pet peeves: "Wait by the side of the road - cannot get. Try calling - cannot get. Use the app - also cannot get."
The anger goes to show how important the taxi network is to commuters, and that this dependence - plus scrutiny - is going to be greater with attempts to wean people off cars.
At this point, I am wondering if we got it all wrong in the first place by making cab fares too cheap: Compare our fares to most metropolitan cities like London, Tokyo and New York, and our taxis are comparatively affordable.
This means that many of us think of them as our go-to mode of public transport (even if it's a two-bus stop ride away) when they should be a premium service you'd go for only when you really need it.
Now, on to solutions: The most popular proposal is to remove all surcharges in the fare structure which, say most commuters, are confusing.
(Note, this proposed solution is at least eight years old.)
There are about 10 different flag-down fares, three metered-fare structures, more than 10 kinds of surcharges and eight types of phone-booking charges.
I take a taxi everywhere, and yet I confess I have lost track of the various fare structures and surcharges.
But I believe I am not alone when I say whatever the fee may be at the time, I will pay it.
So make it simpler by all means.
It will remove the Pavlovian response that has been built into cabbies' ("If I can earn a bit more money 10 minutes later, why wouldn't I wait?) and commuters' ("If I can cut down my waiting time, why not call for a cab and pay more?") systems.
This only feeds the cycle.
A frequent traveller to Hong Kong, where there is no peak-hour, midnight or zone-based charges, I have not once encountered difficulty in getting a cab at any hour of the day.
I have my own grouses: Just because of the casual way I am dressed (think tees and bermudas), empty cabs cruise past me during peak hours. Why?
One cabby admitted after I had boarded that he had hesitated "in case you were just going somewhere nearby".
At the end of the day, realistically, we might be looking at higher cab fares if all the surcharges are done away with.
I really don't mind paying more for my fare if the ride and service is commensurate with the money.
If the fee is raised but the problems don't get solved, I think many will get even angrier and give up the thought of taxis - this will mean hurting the transport companies in the long run.
It's also going to be a fine balance if you still want to keep people away from cars, though.
Raise the fares too much and you'll probably encounter more people who think like Madam Eunice Ng, 34, an underwriter: "If I have to pay so much or even more but the service is lousy, then I might as well drive."