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Thursday January 23, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Thursday January 23, 2014 MYT 9:36:59 AM
by patrick lee
KUALA LUMPUR: The days of endless waits for a cab and rude taxi men may soon be over. A special satellite tracking system will be implemented that will enable authorities to monitor taxis and passengers to lodge complaints immediately.
Taxis will soon be equipped with GPS (Global Positioning System) technology, allowing the Government to not only direct a taxi to a waiting customer, but also monitor a driver’s habits.
Known as the Centralised Taxi Service System (CTSS), it is currently being developed by the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and is slated for rollout in the Klang Valley in the third quarter of this year.
“What we’re trying to do is get all these taxis on board to a system,” SPAD chief executive Mohamad Nur Ismal Kamal (pic) told The Star in an interview.
The good news for passengers is that there is likely to be one number to call to get a cab.
Mohamad said the current taxi radio services would subscribe to SPAD’s system while drivers would subscribe to the radio services.
Mohamad added that the CTSS would also be used to direct the cabbie closest to a waiting passenger, rather than having people call several companies for a ride.
“You can either call an operator’s number or ours. However, we’re hoping for only one number,” he said.
With the CTSS, a special panel will also be fitted onto the back of the front seats, allowing passengers to talk to SPAD during the journey. He said customers would not only be able to send complaints, but also rate the drivers.
“Later, when a customer wants a taxi, they can specify for only four-star drivers and above to fetch them,” Mohamad said.
Ratings, he added, would also inspire drivers to give better services. Citing mobile taxi booking services such as MyTeksi and Taximonger, he said drivers who were rated well there could actually earn more.
Mohamad said the system was needed because the taxi industry was fragmented and it was difficult for SPAD to keep an eye on all the taxis in the Klang Valley, much less the country.
It is estimated that there are 60,000-odd taxis in the peninsula with more than 37,000 taxis in Klang Valley alone. New York, in comparison, has 13,000. There are an estimated 7.2 million people in the Klang Valley while New York has a population of about 20 million.
Even with this large number of taxis, Mohamad said there were some areas where cabbies would not go to in the Klang Valley. With CTSS, the taxis could be ordered to do so by the SPAD.
“Right now, no one is monitoring what taxi drivers are doing. They could be sitting in Bukit Bintang for hours, chatting at a coffeeshop, playing checkers.
“By having all these taxis linked to us, we can see where the cabbies are, and redistribute the numbers to cover where the demand is,” he said.
He said SPAD wanted to make sure that there were 60% to 80% of taxis available during peak periods.
The system, he said, would also be installed in such a way that SPAD would know a cab’s exact location, and if its meter was turned off.
Another idea SPAD was working on under this system included a panic button, which passengers could use to call for help.
Mohamad said the CTSS would be installed in the new Taxi 1Malaysia (Teks1M) models within the Klang Valley first, before moving to other models in the long run.
He added that having the CTSS might even become a licence condition in the future as well, and that installing costs could be lowered through advertising possibilities in the taxi’s backpanel.
37,000 is a big number its easier said than done, say cabbies
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