By Raphael Blet
Every now and then, new taxi apps are unveiled with the aim being to ease taxi booking for passengers and increase the revenue of drivers.
Unsurprisingly, the outcome usually isn’t effective.
Hong Kong has around 33 different taxi radio dispatch stations. Thus, there are 33 different phone numbers to book a cab in addition of the many apps.
Such an important number of booking channels is inevitably lowering the chances of commuters finding a taxi given that drivers can not be connected to the 33 radio stations and apps at the same time.
Well… I might be contradicted.
Indeed, most of us might have encountered (either on social media or through our own experience) taxis looking rather like mobile call centres than ordinary cabs.
Some drivers can have as far as 10 smartphones, constantly connected on different apps. This amusing scene is a reflection of Hong Kong’s failure to implement a centralized dispatch system which would ease the whole problem.
In Singapore, all taxis are connected to a central system. Commuters can make a booking through a single phone number or app. The nearest cabs will then receive a notification and be dispatched.
In fact, not only Singapore but most Mainland municipalities have standardized their taxi network, leaving Hong Kong far behind.
Naturally, third parties (e.g. Uber) take advantage of the taxi sector’s inconsistency in order to engage in unfair competition.
The implementation of a single booking system would therefore be beneficial to both the drivers and commuters.
The time has come for this change to come.
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Cover Photo Credit: Mohamed Nanabhay/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)