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Things are not going well for Teksi 1Malaysia (TEKS1M) – the cab service, meant to be the turning point in the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD)’s bid to revamp the taxi system, is suffering from a lack of business, with very little take-up from the public.

The Star reports that hundreds of TEKS1M cabs operating in the Klang Valley are losing out on business, not just to transportation network companies such as Uber and GrabCar, but also to their budget counterparts.

Higher fares – brought about by an increase sanctioned by SPAD for the class – are the primary reason why the service, which was launched in March 2013 and is made up exclusively of a fleet of brown Proton Exora and Toyota Innova vehicles, is being shunned by consumers; it’s considerably cheaper to take red-and-white budget taxis, significantly so over longer distances.

According to the report, the flagfall rate for a TEKS1M cab is RM4, with the tariff being 30 sen for every 200 metres travelled, while the flagfall rate for a budget taxi is RM3 and the tariff, 25 sen for the same distance. Budget taxi services also run the Exora, negating any size advantage and higher level of comfort in TEKS1M’s rides.

The higher fare has resulted in many TEKS1M drivers losing out, and many have resorted to queuing up at hot-spots to obtain passengers. Some brown cab drivers, as the publication found out when it checked on the service, are even refusing to utilise the meter, charging fixed rates. Drivers claimed they were not making money.

One driver who was interviewed said that when TEKS1M was first introduced, many cabbies thought it was the best news for the industry and its workforce. “In April, when the government introduced the new rates, I thought this was just too good to be true. After a while, I realised people were rejecting TEKS1M because we are more expensive,” he said.

“I thought the increased fare was going to boost my business, but little did I realise I would be heading for bankruptcy,” the driver told the publication.

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Another driver said that TEKS1M operators are stuck and unable to move ahead. “Imagine having to charge customers a higher rate so that they can enjoy a better ride. But customers are rejecting us simply because we are more expensive. This is what happens when the powers that be make decisions without thinking things through,” he lamented.

Aimed at setting new baselines on vehicle standards, driver quality and operating principles, the new class of taxis were meant to improve the quality of taxi services in the country.

Launched on March 24, 2013 by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the idea was to eventually migrate all city taxis nationwide into TEKS1M – SPAD’s plan was to have only such taxis on the streets by 2019. Initially, the class only utilised NGV Exoras, but this year added the Innova into the cab fleet.