CCTV could cut taxi wait
By Christopher Tan
Oct 23, 2008
STUCK in a taxi queue that is hardly moving?
Relief may come soon from a system of closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras at taxi stands feeding 'live' images back to cab despatch centres, which can direct cabbies to where fares are waiting.
Home-grown information technology company Stratech Systems is devising such a system in response to a call by the Media Development Authority (MDA) for industries to design innovative business solutions.
It is disbursing $12 million for 15 such innovations, among which is Stratech's 'Dynamic Vehicle Allocation System'.
Stratech executive chairman David Chew said the system, which he claimed will be a world first, will be installed at 50 taxi stands, mostly in the Central Business District, for a start.
It should be ready for trial in nine months. He said of the current problem: 'Taxis may be waiting at a vacant stand while commuters queue in vain elsewhere.'
More than just feeding images of taxi queues back to taxi operators, he said, Stratech's system would be smart enough to adjust to changes in the numbers of waiting commuters and cabs arriving.
'Today's taxi despatch systems are dumb,' said the Stratech chief, who has begun talking to the taxi operators.
Ms Tammy Tan, spokesman for ComfortDelGro Corp, Singapore's largest cab company, said: 'We believe a taxi queue monitoring system will help our drivers pinpoint areas where there is higher demand and have in fact been exploring such a system ourselves.'
She added ComfortDelGro was 'encouraged' by the MDA's support of such an initiative and would seek to work with it on its development.
SMRT Taxis' senior manager of customer relations Eunice Lui said initiatives that will enhance taxi services for customers are welcome.
Industry observers, however, said they did not see anything compelling about the system.
Property firm executive H. Y. Loh, a 51-year-old regular cab commuter, is sceptical. She said the system would work in bad times, 'when cabbies going to taxi stands are at least assured of business'. But she is less sure it will work when good times return, because more people will be taking cabs then.
Cab companies may also not back Stratech's system fully, since doing so will hit their call-booking revenue. After all, commuters in taxi queues often resort to phoning for a cab, said Ms Loh.
But Mr Chew said that if Stratech's system works, 'it will ensure a continuous flow of taxis'.
For God’s Sake, can’t they see this is yet another White Elephant.
Firstly – The Cab will only appear when there are Surcharges. Extra bucks to be earned.
Secondly – I thought all cab in Singapore are being installed with some super duper GPS system? Isn’t this good enough to pin point where are all the cabs? Is it necessary to spend $12millions to install 15 of this junk? Who is going to pay for it anyway? Another reason to add more surchages?
This system is not solving the root cause of the problem. Say taxi stand A has no taxi and the queue is really long. So how will this $12M system help with the main problem, which is shortage of taxi at stand A? Absolutely nothing! It only confirmed there is a long queue at Stand A.
Taxi who are at Stand A picking up Passengers most likely has already called their buddies that there are a shortage of cab anyway. Or if they are kind enough they may had also call their dispatch centers.
Come on lah. No need to spend $12Millions on such White Elephant. Use the money to help the poor instead.