KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA: Malaysian taxis are among the worst in the world, claims a survey by a local magazine.
Readers of The Expat magazine, which has a monthly circulation of 6,000 copies, gave the Malaysian taxi service a big thumbs down when compared with services in 22 other countries.
In fact, local taxis scored the lowest in almost every category polled. The survey's 200-odd respondents, comprising expatriates from 30 countries, even went so far as to brand local cabbies "a national disgrace", "a source of national shame" and "a serious threat to tourists - rude bullies and extortionists".
The most frequent complaint was of overcharging and taxi drivers refusing to take passengers who did not agree to pay a flat rate much higher than the regular fare.
The survey covered five main aspects, namely taxi quality, courtesy of drivers, availability on the street, availability by phone and driver job knowledge.
On a 10-point scale, local taxis got scores of 3.8, 4.4, 4.4, 4.8 and 5.5 for each respective aspect. This was in sharp contrast to the 8.6, 8.0, 8.1, 8.8 and 8.7 earned by taxi drivers in Singapore.
Expat Group CEO Andy Davison, whose company owns The Expat, said the high response rate combined with the absence of any really positive feedback, makes it clear people are unhappy with the current services on offer.
"In the last 10 years, we have done about 40 surveys among the resident expatriate community on many aspects of life in Malaysia.
"Most have produced very positive results, but our first survey on the taxi service has revealed a very negative picture," he said yesterday.
On suggestions on how to improve the image of local taxi drivers, Davison said that fares should be high enough that drivers would not feel the need to overcharge in order to make a living.
He also said driver training was an area that could be improved on.
When asked to comment, Taxi Operators Association chairman Datuk Aslah Abdullah said he couldn't deny the findings of the survey.
"However, you also need to check what the fares are in the other countries being compared, because that's where the problem here lies."
On training, he said drivers had undergone tutorials conducted by City Hall and taxi associations since the beginning of this year.