Taxi colour code to guide commuters
BY NEXT year, all taxis in Singapore will speak to you in the language of colour.
At a glance, you will be able to tell not only which company owns the taxi that you are hiring but also whether it will be more expensive than usual.
A new licensing regulation will require taxi operators to standardise the colour of their fleets by October next year.
Operators will be allowed to use one standard colour of their choice. For instance, in Comfort's case this is blue, for TransCab, red, and for SMRT, maroon.
However, all premium service cabs - say, Mercedes-Benz cabs or more expensive taxis offering a higher quality of service - have to be coated in either black or white, regardless of their firm's standard colour.
All six operators here have to follow these rules.
The regulations, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) told MyPaper, will allow commuters to make "easy identification" of premium and normal taxis, and will also "prevent the proliferation of taxi livery colours" used in the industry.
A few operators, including SMRT and Prime, still have some work to do.
In SMRT's case, apart from the maroon-coloured Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Epica, the operator also has a silver Hyundai Azera and white Toyota Crown for its regular services.
A proportion of SMRT's premium cabs are also still cloaked in gold.
A MyPaper check on Prime's website also found that the company's regular fleet has copper-, blue-, and white-coloured cabs.
Ms Jasmine Tan, the general manager of Transcab, which already uses one colour for its regular services and white for its premium cabs, said that the standardisation of colours is good for corporate identity.
Fewer colours may also mean more clarity for commuters. There are some 30 different taxi types here. There are also at least 10 flagdown fares, three types of meter fare structures, and eight different types of phone booking charges.
In comparison, cabs in Hong Kong come in only three colours - red, green and blue. The colours indicate the geographical locations they serve and their different fare structures.
But the standardisation exercise here is well on its way, with 95 per cent of the taxi fleet of 28,000 already conforming to the guidelines, LTA said.
Senior Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo noted last month during the Committee of Supply debate that the different fare structures here are "confusing and frustrating" to commuters.
But while acknowledging that the biggest commuter bugbear is the variation of flagdown rates, she said that operators bought the cabs at different times and at varying prices. The cars purchased, she said, also differ in terms of age, model and fuel efficiency.
The rental rates are thus different to reflect varying costs, and the fares are set differently as well.
Any move to simplify the fare and rental structure may be "tricky" as it may lead to a common levelling up, said Mrs Teo.
Retiree Steven Lee, 58, said he was "shocked" when he recently got a $40 bill, for a booked Mercedes taxi to take him from Sentosa to Redhill.
Mr Lee said the new colour system will help him avoid the premium cab models when he tries to flag a taxi down, but he hopes there can be more consistency in the fare structure.
"Nowadays, I'm just resigned to paying whatever the fare is when I reach my destination," he added.