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Some passengers unbothered by extra S$3 cab surcharge from airport; taxi shortage and long waiting times remain issues

Some passengers unbothered by extra S$3 cab surcharge from airport; taxi shortage and long waiting times remain issues

The taxi queue at Changi Airport's Terminal 1 at 7pm on May 12, 2022. (Photo: CNA/Grace Yeoh)

SINGAPORE: Pay an additional S$3 for taxi rides from Changi Airport on top of the existing surcharge? No problem, said most people who spoke to CNA on Thursday (May 12). 

Surcharges for taxi trips from the airport will be raised by S$3 from May 19 to Jun 30, the airport said on Thursday.

With the increment, the surcharge for taxi trips from 5pm to 11.59pm every day will be raised to S$8, while the surcharge for all other times will go up to S$6.

Currently, there is a S$5 surcharge for taxi trips from Changi Airport between 5pm and midnight on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The surcharge at all other times is currently S$3.

ADDITIONAL SURCHARGE "NO BIG DEAL", SAY MOST

For 32-year-old Song Li, who was returning to Singapore with her family after a holiday, the current S$3 surcharge on weekdays "doesn't bother (them) too much" as they do not travel very often. But with an additional S$3 surcharge soon, she pointed out "that's maybe too much". 

"From the airport to our home, it's a very long distance. So that's already a lot (of money), and if you charge more, it's not very reasonable," she said. 

But others who spoke to CNA were more accepting.

Jason, who declined to give his full name, was queuing for a taxi with his wife and two toddlers. With his "current situation", the 38-year-old Singaporean said, gesturing to his toddlers who were running around, the surcharge does not affect his decision to take a taxi. 

"It's probably very inconvenient to take the train. And Grab doesn't really accept my children for now, unless we choose GrabFamily," he said, referring to the child-friendly option on the ride-hailing app. 

In March, ComfortDelGro announced that it would temporarily increase fares for all its taxis from Apr 4 to cushion the impact of the recent increase in fuel prices. And so, considering the rise in fuel prices, Jason said that "in general", the current and impending airport surcharge is reasonable. 

Similarly, American visitor Kyle Sadler, who works in the oil and gas industry, is not put off by the taxi surcharge as "you see this everywhere you go, it's kind of a normal thing".

The impending extra surcharge does not compel him to take public transport either.

"I can understand (people who are turned off by the surcharge), but it doesn't affect us, because of the nature of what we do here. We travel on business. It's not that big of a deal. But I can understand people who would be (put off)," said the 52-year-old who is in Singapore for the third time. 

Meanwhile, a more frequent visitor to Singapore, 46-year-old Craig Hemopo from New Zealand, said that taxi rides are "a lot cheaper here anyway" compared to those back home. So the taxi surcharge from the airport is "no big deal". 

Having been to Singapore "around seven to eight times", he added that the additional S$3 surcharge still would "not at all" affect his decision to come to Singapore.

"Everyone's got to make a living. ... If you're worried about S$6 coming to Singapore, maybe this isn't the place for you," he noted. 

TAXI SHORTAGE, LONGER WAITING TIMES 

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Changi Airport said the extra surcharge is being implemented to "ensure a better supply of taxis" to the airport for passengers.

Taxi coordinators manning the queues told CNA they have observed long lines and a lack of taxis.

While there were no queues for arriving passengers at Changi Airport's Terminal 1 and 3 on Thursday evening when CNA visited, this was not the norm, said taxi coordinators. Things really pick up around 9pm to 10pm when lines extend beyond the queue poles, the coordinators told CNA. 

While there might be "full lines", there is also a "taxi shortage", said one of them, 74-year-old Anita, who declined to give her real name.  

"(Some) drivers don't accept credit card. They want cash. So (it will be even more) crowded," she added. 

"(Passengers) didn't say (anything about the) surcharge. They say (the) waiting time (is) very long. They say, 'What happened to Singapore? Ridiculous.' This (is the) sort of message we get from them. When we tell them (there's a) shortage of taxis, we console them, (a guy) said he's losing patience."

Anita, who works the afternoon shift from 2.30pm to 10.30pm, added that some passengers have waited for as long as two hours – and the queue for taxis has not been affected by surcharge pricing. 

"Last time before COVID, taxi drivers will be waiting for passengers. But now, no, passengers have to wait for taxis," she said. 

Source: CNA/gy(ac)

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