Finally the LTA do something to show, hope it will continue the effort.Originally Posted by http://www.straitstimes.comLTA's crackdown follows numerous complaints by the public, but errant practices continueBy Maria AlmenoarTHE Land Transport Authority (LTA), responding to rising public complaints against taxi drivers, launched its biggest crackdown to date against them last week.
In a special four-day operation conducted from Oct 24 to Oct 27, 41 cabbies who flouted the rules were caught.
The blitz targeted spots popular with Singaporeans and tourists alike, and included Clarke Quay, Boat Quay and Orchard Towers.
Of the 41 drivers booked, 22 were caught for touting, 11 for refusing to pick up passengers, and eight for overcharging.
The LTA also warned that there would be more to come: it will be stepping up enforcement operations, both on weekdays and weekends.
Appropriate action - including fines or suspensions - will be taken against the 41 drivers caught after investigations are carried out, the LTA said in a statement yesterday.
The blitz followed recent media reports, including one in The Sunday Times last month which blew the lid off a new practice among cabbies - touts who prey on foreigners.
There have also been mounting complaints from the public about the increasing brazenness of some cabbies - they pick and choose fares, refuse to use the meter, or overcharge passengers, usually tourists.
The Straits Times and its online portals received more than 100 complaint letters recently.
Many readers were also concerned that such drivers would tarnish Singapore's image as a top-class tourist destination.
Meanwhile, on the Internet, a cyber-war against these drivers has erupted.
Annoyed commuters have been taking out their frustrations on blogs and forums, and there are even websites dedicated to the topic.
But yesterday, the LTA said it would get tough, and said that errant cabbies face these penalties:
For touting, drivers will face a $200 fine and five demerit points;
For overcharging an amount less than $20, they will face a $200 fine and five demerit points;
For overcharging by more than $20, drivers face a $500 fine, 21 demerit points and will have their licence revoked; and
For refusing to pick up a passenger, they face a $100 fine and three demerit points.
Cabbies accumulating six demerit points or more within 24 months will have their vocational licences suspended.
Those who accumulate 21 points or more within the 24-month period, will have their licences revoked.
Taxi companies are also responding.
Ms Tammy Tan, the spokesman for ComfortDelGro, the largest taxi operator here, said the company 'regularly patrols hot spots like Orchard Towers and the airport to make sure our cabbies do not tout'.
She added: 'We issue warnings and, in many cases, have suspended and even terminated the hiring agreements of recalcitrant drivers.'
Calling the latest measures by the LTA timely, Ms Tan said that 'such punitive and, no doubt, painful measures are necessary to stop such delinquent behaviour among drivers'.
'These drivers give the whole industry a bad name and should be dealt with severely,' she said.
Despite all this, however, a Straits Times check at Clarke Quay from 8 pm to 9.45pm yesterday found that touting was still continuing.
A number of taxis flashed the 'on call' sign while waiting at the kerb for passengers to approach and haggle over fares.
According to a Clarke Quay security guard, the taxi drivers also employ lookouts to watch out for enforcement officers.
The guard, who had been deployed to chase away touts, said there had been an increase in such activities lately.
He used to shoo away six touts nightly, he said, but now, there are at least 10.
The public can call LTA's hotline on 1800-225-5582 to give feedback or report errant taxi drivers.
firstname.lastname@example.org ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY LIM WEI CHEAN
Will you call 1800-225-5582 to report errant taxi driver