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The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has issued a statement detailing the current issues faced by the local taxi industry, along with measures which it aims to implement in order to improve it for the better.

“In reality, the taxi industry in Malaysia is far from being anywhere near perfect. It remains the most fragmented segment of our public transport and is riddled with legacy issues which have been around for the past few decades,” admited SPAD in the press statement.

For a bit of history, SPAD commenced operations in 2011, overseeing all matters related to the taxi industry. One of its first programmes, Teksi Rakyat 1Malaysia (TR1Ma) in 2012, provided 76,000 taxi drivers with vouchers for new tyres, Personal Accident Insurance Coverage (PA), road tax exemption, 50% toll subsidy as well as excise and sales tax exemption for individual licence holders.

SPAD then introduced the Teksi 1Malaysia (TEKS1M) licence class in 2013, with the aim of migrating all existing metered taxis reaching the end of their service life to newer models. This was done to address concerns relating to drivers, vehicle, and operations standards.

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Initially, 1,000 licences were issued, where qualified taxi drivers received a RM5,000 grant, and a low fixed interest rate of 2% per annum to purchase their Proton Exora TEKS1M vehicles. This was expanded to include the Toyota Innova in 2015.

SPAD says that as of today, there are 1,750 TEKS1M vehicles on the road. In order to meet current demands, more economical TEKS1M models will be introduced in the future, including smaller sedans.

The decades-old taxi leasing model or “pajak system” is another area the SPAD wants to improve on, making it not just more transparent, but fair to both drivers and operators. A taxi driver recently revealed that taxi leasing fees can go up to RM1,500 a month.

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With high operating costs, taxi drivers have previously asked for a rise in fares, which SPAD acknowledged to, restructuring the taxi fare structure in March 2015. However, taxi drivers have recently asked for fares to be hiked, only to be turned down by SPAD in October. On the mention of fares, SPAD says that nearly 40% of the total complaints it has received are linked to taxi drivers refusing to use the meter.

The press release also stated that the issue of inadequate taxis during peak hours in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley is a puzzling one. As of current, 65,292 taxis operating in Peninsular Malaysia, where 44,012 are metered taxis which are largely company owned (62%).

From that number, 70% of these taxis are concentrated in Malaysia’s Central Region, with an astonishing 95% of them operating in Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley. With such figures, the issue (taxi shortage) should never arise, but somehow it still prevails, according to SPAD.

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The introduction of taxi booking smartphone apps, like MyTeksi, has only resulted in 27% of the existing taxis fleets being able to connect with passengers. To minimise that gap, SPAD will implement the Centralised Taxi Service System (CTSS), to monitor taxi supply distribution and performance.

The system will be integrated with existing booking and dispatch systems. It is hoped that with improved customer-matching and the income gained from it, taxi drivers will be able to provide a better service to the public.

Finally, SPAD will look to make amendments to the Land Public Transport Act 2010. A comprehensive regulatory review of the taxi industry and licensing policies is also part of the exercise, along with improved enforcement programmes. It’s not, however, mention if these amendments will have any relation to ride-sharing services like Uber and GrabCar.