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The times they are a-changin’ indeed. According to a report by The Star, more and more taxi drivers are leaving the industry by the day. The key reasons include a falling number of passengers and ever-increasing operating costs. No surprises on where theses ex-taxi drivers are headed to, either.

While exact figures remain unknown, it is said that a vast majority of former taxi drivers have jumped ship to ridesharing services such as Uber and GrabCar. “Based on [the] last quarter, we have [had] thousands of sign-ups coming in every week. Out of that, about 20% comes from the taxi industry,” said Uber Malaysia general manager, Leon Foong.

Evidently, the emergence of services such as the ones mentioned above have severely affected the income of taxi drivers in the local scene, with lower fares playing a key role. Calculations by the English-language daily reveal that a trip from PJ New Town to Bangsar LRT station would cost between RM8 to RM12 via Uber while a taxi ride for the same journey would incur a fare of RM11 or more instead.

The drop in taxi riders have, reportedly, cost drivers to lose between 20%-50% of their income while the operating costs doesn’t seem to make things any better. Recently, several associations representing taxi drivers have protested against the effects of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as well as the impending hike for Natural Gas Vehicle (NGV) fuel in September.

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According to Indian Taxi Owner and Driver Association (Federal Territories and Selangor) secretary, S. Balakrishnan, a monthly operating cost increase of RM400 would further add to the burden of taxi drivers should the hike get the go ahead. “Maybe I will also go join Uber. We are all going to soon. If I chuck my car and join Uber or GrabCar, I won’t need to pay taxi insurance,” he commented.

Further adding fuel to the fire is the poor reputation of taxi drivers garnered by most passengers in Malaysia. According to Gabungan Koperasi Pengang­kutan Malaysia secretary, Mohd Salleh Mat Zin, the government’s lackadaisical attitude to addressing the complaints have further contributed to the downfall.

“I know five or six friends who have gone to Uber and GrabCar. How many in total? I don’t know,” said Salleh. “They have to pay the permit for their taxis and all the costs. A GrabCar can just come to a shopping mall, pick someone up and go,” he concluded.