Taxi drivers seen asking passengers at MBS to pay S$65 for a ride to Orchard

The authorities are aware of the situation.

Ruth Chai | November 27, 2023, 03:14 AM



Numerous taxi drivers were reportedly seen soliciting passengers at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) taxi stand, as well as quoting high arbitrary prices for short journeys into other parts of town.

The situation was reported on after an 8world reporter went to the scene to snoop around and noticed multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) taxi drivers engaging in touting.

When the reporter approached six of the taxis pretending to be in a hurry, the drivers allegedly wanted to charge a flat fee of between S$50 and S$65 for a journey to Orchard Road, which is less than 5km away.

As seen in 8World's TikTok of the situation on the ground, the MPV taxis that were apparently engaging in touting were the seven-seater limousine variety. 滨海湾金沙出现霸王车砍菜头现象严重,从金沙到乌节路四公里车程竟开价高达65元。记者也亲睹游客因赶时间,无奈硬着头皮上车。 #sgnews #touting #taxi #8worldnews 😢#8视界新闻网 ♬ original sound - 8视界新闻网

In response to 8world's queries, a MBS spokesperson said it has deployed more manpower on the ground to monitor the situation.

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) also said it takes a "serious view" of such illegal activities.

Modus operandi

How the touting works is simple.

The MPV taxis, which are part of a premium service and can ferry up to six passengers, will enter the pick-up-drop-off area of MBS.

The MPV taxi drivers would wind down their window and call out to passengers who appeared in need of a ride.

Those waiting in the area were reportedly seen queuing up or checking their phones, but some appeared at a loss as to how to get a ride and stood by the side, while there were others who appeared to be in a hurry.

This was according to the observations of the 8world reporter, who went down to MBS on Saturday (Nov. 25) at 5pm, a peak period, to investigate.

At that time, it had started to rain.

At least six MPV taxis, which already had their windows rolled down and their automatic passenger doors opened, then drove slowly into the area.

The MPV taxi drivers then asked those in the area where they wanted to go and offered a ride for a flat fee.

Some of those who were solicited ended up acquiescing to the high asking price.

And if the taxi drivers were unable to find passengers, they would drive out of the pick-up-drop-off area, only to return to try their luck again.

Tourists express frustration at exorbitant rates

One tourist from India was observed to have eventually boarded one of the white MPV taxis, which bore a taxi sign on its roof that had turned red, indicating it was occupied or busy.

His family of six included the elderly and children.

Just before he boarded the vehicle, he told the 8world reporter that he was going to Little India, and that the driver offered the ride for a price of S$65.

Little India is about 3.2km away from MBS.

"I know that the fare is very expensive and that the driver is charging prices arbitrarily, but it's raining, there are many of us, and we're tired from shopping," the tourist said.

Another tourist from the United States said he was surprised to see such a situation in Singapore.

He was here for the first time, and had made an appointment to meet a friend at Orchard Road at 6:30pm.

After failing to get a private hire vehicle for 30 minutes, he decided to ask the MPV taxi driver for his rates.

When the MPV driver replied that the journey would cost S$60, the tourist decided not to board the vehicle.

He told the 8world reporter that S$60 was an exorbitant amount, as private hire vehicles from ride-hailing platforms only charged around S$20 for a ride.

"I have already foreseen that I will be late and I have decided to wait for 15 minutes more. If I really can't get a vehicle, then maybe I will ride the MPV taxi."

The tourist also said he thought it was unfair for visitors in Singapore, as they did not know the right avenue to complain and feel like they have no choice but to accept the high prices.

Reporter experimented with getting a ride

The reporter then decided to see if she would get ripped off, in order to test the veracity of these tourists' claims.

She pretended to be in a hurry, and asked six MPV taxi drivers how much they charged for a ride to Orchard Road.

The distance from MBS to Orchard Road is about 4.7km, via Raffles Ave.

Drivers of six MPV taxis quoted prices between S$50 and S$65, and the drivers appeared reluctant when offering the rate, citing the rain and traffic jams as reasons.

Some taxi drivers also asked the reporter to get into the vehicle first before negotiating the price.

After the reporter revealed her identity, the taxi drivers changed their tune, and claimed that the high price was based on the metered fare.

Some of the drivers also told the reporter that she could take a private hire vehicle when she told them that a private hire vehicle ride only costs about S$20.

MBS and LTA aware of situation

A spokesperson from MBS told 8world that they have deployed manpower to monitor the situation on the ground, placed traffic cones to prevent taxis from parking in unauthorised areas, and are cooperating closely with the relevant authorities.

MBS has taken measures, such as deploying addition personnel to supervise the situation, and setting up signboards to remind passengers to avoid drivers who are touting and charging exorbitant fees.

It was observed that a sign at MBS written in Chinese, English and Japanese at the taxi stand reminded passengers that overcharging of fares is illegal.

The sign also indicated that fares must be metered, with surcharges applicable.

A receipt must also be provided upon request, the sign read.

The reporter also noticed at least three security personnel trying to regulate the situation by attempting to stop drivers from soliciting passengers.

8world also reported that it understood that the licence plate numbers of drivers who solicit for passengers will be recorded by MBS staff.

LTA also said it is aware of the issue and that it takes such illegal activities seriously.

Speaking to 8world, LTA emphasised that private hire vehicles and taxi drivers caught soliciting passengers can be fined S$500 and incur 12 demerit points, which will lead to the suspension of a driver's vocational licence for four weeks.

LTA also recommended that passengers make travel reservations through licensed operators.

If the passengers are in doubt, they can verify the fare according to the fare list provided by the operator.

Passengers are also advised to check whether the meter is activated during the journey, and to check whether the final fare charged is accurately reflected.

The public can make reports to LTA via the feedback form.

Top photo via 8world TikTok