Friday, March 13, 2009

Taxi dole

Whoever (excepting young kids and very old senile seniors) doesn't know that we are going through a recession must have had his/her head stuck in the proverbial desert sand. Jobs have been lost, people by the thousands are showing at at career and recruitment fairs, hoping to secure that 800 or so jobs on offer, probably in industries or businesses they are unfamiliar with. Choice isn't an operational word anymore, at least for breadwinners who need to feed the family.

So I have heard and the press has reported that taxi drivers are also suffering from reduced businesses. The logic is that more people are taking public transport to save money, even as salaries are cut and job security has become the uppermost concern on their minds. So taxis are finding it harder to get passengers. That's how the argument goes.

Well, pardon me if I disagree. Taxi business hasn't really gone down at all, judging from my experience over the last month or so. You see, I always take a cab on Sundays, and for the last few weeks, I have also had to take taxis at various locations around the island during weekdays, such as Clementi and Sims Avenue (near Geylang) - places, which even if you have lived 6 months in Singapore, you would agree has high human traffic almost the entire day.

In all the instances when I wanted to catch a cab home, I have had to wait for no less than 10 minutes for one. Many whiz past with passengers. In fact the other evening, I got fed-up waiting for a cab that I took a bus home. Yeah, it is that bad.

Are Taxi drivers suffering from poorer business? After all, the Chinese New Year has come and gone. So where are the taxis? Lining up at government offices collecting dole money? I have seen how bad business can be for taxi drivers, particularly back in 2003. This recession doesn't look anything like 2003 - it looks very much like business as usual.