‘Won’t take long before I feel the pinch’: Causeway commuters fret over Singapore-JB taxi fare hike
Some cab drivers said that the fare increase is timely, given increasing petrol prices and higher cost of living.
JOHOR BAHRU: Malaysian Jeffrey Lau was struggling to haul a huge suitcase from the boot of a Singapore-registered taxi after he alighted at Larkin Sentral bus station on Tuesday morning (Jul 5).
The contractor works near Yishun in Singapore but travels to Johor Bahru fortnightly to see his family.
He learnt the previous evening that taxi fares for Singapore-registered cabs travelling between Singapore and Johor Bahru were slated to increase from Jul 11. He decided to bring forward his trip by a week.
“I read that it will be S$12 more (expensive) to take a cab from Singapore to Larkin next week, so I decided it would make more sense to travel today. I have many things to bring home, so taking (the) bus is really not an option,” said the 32-year-old.
Cross-border bus and taxi services between Singapore and Malaysia were allowed to resume from May 1, about two years after operations were suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, cross-border public bus services between Singapore and Johor Bahru were reinstated.
In April, it was reported that the Singapore-Johor Taxi Operators' Association had applied to Singapore's Public Transport Council (PTC) to raise its fares to S$15 each person, or $60 per taxi.
Singapore taxi companies including ComfortDelGro and Strides Taxi announced via social media on Monday that there will be fare revisions for cab trips between Singapore and Johor Bahru. These revisions will take effect from next Monday.
Regular cross-border commuters interviewed by CNA said that they would end up bearing the brunt of the fare hikes for Singapore-registered taxis.
The revisions include an increase in the price of taxi rides from Ban San Street taxi terminal in Rochor to Larkin Sentral in Johor Bahru from S$48 to S$60.
Fares from Changi Airport or Seletar Airport to Larkin Sentral will increase from S$80 to S$120. Fares from any other location in Singapore to Larkin Sentral will also go up from S$60 to S$80.
Meanwhile, the fares for Singapore cabs to travel from Larkin Sentral to any destination in Singapore, excluding Ban San Street taxi terminal, would increase from S$55 to S$60, or S$70 for those who make an advance booking.
For a trip between Larkin Sentral to Ban San Street on a Singapore-registered taxi, it will continue to cost RM120 (US$27.15).
Mr Lau noted that for regular commuters, the fare revisions will eventually add up.
“The S$12 increase (per taxi) may not sound like a lot to some. But if I travel twice a month, it will add up quickly. Soon, I might have no choice but to use the bus service instead,” he added.
Another Malaysian who wanted to be known only as Mr Abdul Hamid told CNA that the fare hike will likely mean that he will use cross-border taxi services less regularly.
He works in the shipping industry in Singapore and typically commutes during odd hours, during which public bus services may not be available.
“I am affected (by the hike). It won’t take long before I will feel the pinch,” said Mr Abdul Hamid.
“The price (increase) from S$48 to S$60 (for fares from Ban San Street to Larkin) is a 25 per cent increase. It’s a little difficult to swallow, especially when there is inflation all around,” he added.
Another commuter, Chng Wen Xin, echoed similar sentiments.
The 32-year-old Malaysian works in the food and beverage industry in Singapore and sometimes shares a cab with her colleagues during her daily commute.
“The prices of a lot of goods in the market there have increased,” said Ms Chng, pointing to the Larkin public wet market adjacent to the taxi stand.
Ms Chng told CNA that she was already grappling with rising cost of living in Malaysia. “The last thing we need is for (taxi fares) to also go up,” she added.
CAB DRIVERS LAUD FARE HIKE
On the other hand, those driving Singapore-registered cabs who were interviewed by CNA at Larkin Sentral said they welcome the fare hike, as it would help them to cope with rising vehicle rentals and pump prices.
Mr Haniff Mahdob, who has been plying the route between Singapore and Johor Bahru for over a decade, described the fare hike as “long time coming”. He noted that current fares have not been changed for over a decade.
“Over the last few years, taxi rentals have increased. Costs of petrol have increased too. But the taxi fare between Singapore and JB has remained the same,” he said.
“Now that it has finally increased, it gives drivers some space to earn or recoup losses from the COVID-19 pandemic,” added Mr Haniff.
Another Singaporean taxi driver who wanted to be known as Mr Jeffri told CNA that he is hopeful the fare hike will help him cope with his living expenses.
“These days, petrol costs have gone up. Given that most drivers are only able to make one or two trips a day, increasing our earnings for each trip makes the journey worthwhile,” he added.
Besides Singapore-registered taxis, there are also Malaysia-registered taxis providing services across the Causeway.
These Malaysia-registered taxis are only permitted to travel between Larkin Sentral and Ban San Street in Singapore.
Mr Mohd Suhaimi Said, who manages the Malaysia-registered cabs at Larkin Sentral, told CNA that the fare charged by them will remain the same for now. The fare is RM120.
However, Mr Mohd Suhaimi said that he was working with the authorities to negotiate an “appropriate fare hike” for Malaysia-registered cabs as well.
“Setting a new price will take some time, perhaps around 6 months,” he said.