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Singapore Taxis

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Taxi drivers are famous in Singapore. Famous for not knowing their way around, even though Singapore is half the size of London. Famous for having a GPS unit but not being able to follow it. Famous for their driving “safety” that leaves much to be desired. Famous for not picking people up towards the end of their shift or in bad weather.

At least however, the cost of taxis in Singapore is quite reasonable. They aren’t Thailand or China cheap, but they won’t break the bank either. There is a full fare breakdown on the Comfort & City and SMRT websites for their taxis, but expect to pay around S$3 for a flagdown, and $10 for short journeys during the day. There are surcharges of 25% during peak hours (Mon – Fri 06:00 ~ 09:30, 18:00 ~ 00:00) and 50% at night between 00:00 ~ 06:00. There are additional fees for Changi Airport, Singapore Expo, MBS and Sentosa island.

A taxi from Changi Airport to Chinatown costs around S$20 during the day and $30 at night. Most cars take credit and debit cards (NETS) but you should check with the driver.

Booking a taxi in Singapore is a painful experience. It is a completely inefficient system, requiring you to make a call, and wait for an sms that will probably tell you there are no taxis available and to try again later. It doesn’t go into a queue, you just have to try again until it blocks you for an hour after several failed attempts. There are thousands of Taxis in Singapore but its still somehow hard to get one at many times of the day. Even if you’re standing at a crowded taxi rank, sometimes taxis won’t come unless you book one.

When it rains, as it does so frequently and heavily in Singapore, it is even harder to get a taxi. Apparently this is because if a Taxi driver is involved in any accident, they must pay damages of $1000+ until responsibility is decided and they can potentially claim it back. They also cannot drive another taxi in the meantime while their car is repaired. This means it is simply not worth their risk to drive in heavy rain when even a minor accident could affect their income for months.

All taxi drivers are Singaporean, many older men who may not speak English well and may have trouble understanding foreigner’s pronunciation of certain places in Singapore. Try to pronounce clearly, or even try to fake a Singaporean accent (seriously), and don’t be surprised if you have to say it four or five times before they get it. A written/printed version of an address is helpful, or use key landmarks like shopping malls and MRT stations. Be sure they have the right destination before you go or you might be in for a scenic tour.

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