WHEN the 15-year monopoly by Airport Limo (M) Sdn Bhd ended on May 15 last year, many passengers at KLIA were unaware of the additional taxi option available at Level 1 of the airport.
There was a lack of signs and the booth for city taxis was located in a quiet corner where it could be easily missed.
Many passengers were often surprised to discover that city cabbies were available at the basement level (Level 1). When StarMetro visited the airport recently, there were not many signs indicating that city taxis could be found two levels below. At Level 1, city taxies could be seen waiting for hours to get passengers heading back to the city.
The line was several hundred metres long starting from an open field next to the airport building.
The place was devoid of shelter, and cabbies had to wait after receiving their numbers under the scorching sun or pouring rain.
“The wait is too long, sometimes four hours, sometimes five,” lamented taxi driver Sivanesh.
“I usually come at about 8am and queue at the field with the other drivers after getting my number.
“Sometimes there are hundreds of drivers waiting,” she said.
According to Sivanesh, after their numbers are called, cabbies went to the basement level where they would have to wait again.
“If I am lucky, I will get a passenger going into the city centre,” she said, adding that it was rare to get a passenger heading to Kuala Lumpur.
Taxi driver Rahim Kechik said the system was not fair.
“They will only send us a passenger if they are short of taxis or when passengers want to go nearby destinations,” Rahim said.
“We (city cabbies) are here to cover for weaknesses in the system and reduce the number of complaints from disgruntled passengers. We are being treated like unwanted stepchildren,” Rahim said.
Cabbies are frustrated as the system favours one company.
“I waited for four hours - two hours at the field and two hours here (Level 1) - yesterday, and I got a passenger who was going to Nilai!
“It is not worthwhile,” said one driver, Mohd Ali.
“We need to be heard, we need representation,” said another driver, Mohd Helmi.
“There has to be a fair system where we (city taxis) are being represented at the airport.
“If they (Airport Limo) were sincere, they would place the city taxi counter right next to their airport limo counter with a prominent sign that says `budget taxi’,” added Mohd Helmi.
“Will they do it? I doubt it,” Mohd Ali said.