Thursday, August 28, 2008

Service Ambassadors driving the 300C

More on the SMRT Chrysler 300C Taxi

Quoting again from the ST article '...driven by "service ambassadors" instead of regular cabbies.'

I think it is dangerous for SMRT to use the word service ambassadors. For a premium flagdown and booking rate that cost as much as George Bush spent for the Iraq war, Singaporean especially will be inclined to think that they should be treated like a King when they engage this kind of service.

Perhaps the service ambassadors need to open the doors for the VIP...i mean passenger before boarding and when the passenger is alighting or to help the passengers unload the shopping bags from the boot, or so.

The fact is that is the cabbies, yes, no matter what, I would still call them cabbies, be willing to do that. If not, then there is no point charging a premium price for service.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why I don't want to take the 300C cab anymore?

While anticipating for the cab to be here is one thing, now I am not sure whether I want to flag down the Chrysler 300C cab, no thanks to SMRT.

(Refer to the newspaper article on the previous post)

A flagdown of $5.00 compared to a flagdown of $3.20 for a Merc LimoCab and $2.80 for normal cabs, this is just ridiculous.

Quoting the article:

'SMRT clearly wants to position the 300C - which many say resembles a Bentley - as a premium taxi....driven by "service ambassadors" instead of regular cabbies.'

Ya, I know that many says it resembles a Bentley, but as many also knows that it is not a Bentley, so why should I pay a Bentley premium for something that 'looked like but in reality is not a Bentley'

We all know that Mercedes makes one of the best suspension in the world, we all know that some of the best brands for mass produced cars like Merc, BMW and Audi all comes from Germany We also all know (if you don't, now you do) that a Chrsyler 300C Petrol variant cost less than a E200 Kompressor Petrol variant Mercedes Benz ($165k vs $174k)

(Prices from as on 27 Aug 08)

So for something that cost less, SMRT is charging more rental ($139 instead of $124 for Merc) to its drivers which in turns, because they want to attract drivers to drive this fleet of Limo cabs, passes the cost of the commuters. So, now you know who is profiting from this? I dont mind when one party is earning money from a deal, because that is business, but this like penalising commuters who wants to take the cab.

The next time you see people flagging down cabs, when the 300C comes along, they will not raise up their hands.

If SMRT is positioning this to appeal to companies, rather than commuters, then they could have charged more for booking fee instead of raising the flagdown rate. Because if a company wants the cab, they would not send someone to flag it down.
(By the way, the booking fee of $10 is $2 more than Mercedes Cab of $8 already).

If a $0.30 diesel or CNG surcharge on the starting fare make a difference, imagine how much difference can a $1.80 surcharge make?

Here comes Chrysler cabs

From Sept 1, SMRT will be rolling out the first of its Chrysler 300C taxis (below) .

With a flag-down rate of $5, itis the most extravagant taxi here, outstripping even the luxury Mercedes Benz E-class cabs' flag-down of $3.20 by over 50 per cent.

To book the 300C costs $10, with the advance booking charge set at $20.

SMRT clearly wants to position the 300C - which many says resembles a Bentley - as a premium taxi that is a cut above the rest, driven by "service ambassadors" instead of regular cabbies.

The 300C was produced by the now demerged DaimlerChrysler. it is based on an old Mercedes E-class platform.

SMRT Taxis vice-president, Mr Lo Chee Wen, said: "SMRT believes that our Chrysler 300C taxis would offer corporate visitors both locally and from abroad a new choice of travel.

Meanwhile SMRT said that it would start imposing a 30-cent fuel surcharge for its compressed-natural gas cabs from Sept 1.

With the move, 11-month-old Prime Taxiswill be the only cab operators - identifiable by its bronze coloured cabs - that is not levying a fuel surcharge.

Prime Managing director Neo Nam Heng said the company will take another poll among its drivers before deciding whether to follow the rest.

Christopher Tan

The Straits Times, 27 Aug 2008
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Monday, August 25, 2008

Friends of Ikea?

Recently saw on the forums on someone asking what cab should one call if one has small cargo like a small cupboard from Ikea or something that a normal cab boot or rear seat cannot fit in.

Of course reply posts will be call the Vito or rent a van yourself.

Actually, there are more models of cabs than just the Vito that could do the job. If you think about Multi purpose cabs on the road, more and more models are being added and they are doing what the van do, carrying cargo, instead of people or doing both together

So what are the cabs that are able to do the job?

Beside the vito, there are the VW Touran, The Toyota Wish, the Honda Airwave, the Honda Stepwagon, the Toyota Estima, the Kia Caren.

And there are some which you can't call but it is a cab nevertheless: Honda Stream, Toyota Liteace.

I don't think many has seen this white Volvo V70 cab on the road a few years ago but if I am not mistaken, the one and the only volvo is brought in to transport such bulky item, and at the time of mainly crown and cedric, what could be better to do
the job than a Volvo estate.

What will you call?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Just where are the Chrysler 300C cabs?

The Hyundai Azera CNG cab from SMRT has been spotted for almost a month but where is sights of the Chrysler 300C. Both cabs are introduced by smrt together so they should come out not too long aoart from each other. Should, I am saying.

Perhaps that Chrysler is from America and hence the longer delivery time or perhaps that Chrslyler needed some time to produce the diesel powered cabs while the Azera (both originally are meant to be petrol powered) has ready stock of the standard variant

Or could it be that all 200 300C are already in Singapore but no drivers has the courage to make it their 'war' machines. (Refer to my previous post 200 of 300c). Maybe those who may have the courage also have the brains to realise that the 300c daily rental of close to 139 as compared to merc of 120+ is ridiculously high and not worth it.

Come on, what's the use of a higher starting fare?. Limo cab cabbies earns on the premium booking fee ($8 vs $3.50) and if you are talking about SMRT as compared to giant comfort delgro amount of bookings, it is not hard to see why nobody wants to take the 300C.

The other reason may be because of brand of the cabs. When you trigger the word Mercedes, people immediately associate it with the concept of luxury. When you say Chrysler, people response to it is likely to be I dont know (if it is worth the premium) Change resistors will rather stick cosily in their comfort zone and call a Merc cab instead.

Let's see how long more we have to wait before we spot the first Chrysler cab on the roads.

The Azera and the 300C at the SMRT launch

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

CNG Cabs woes

The Sunday times runs an article on a big group of CNG Kia Caren drivers went to see the management of Smart cab because they cannot cope with the issues that comes with driving their cng cabs like increasing cng cost, long queue at cng pumps and needing to pump several times per day.

They cannot stop simply stop driving their CNG cabs because they are under a 4 year contract with smart cab.

So now they want to get rid of their CNG cab which obviously Smart cab will not allow because who is the company going to pass the CNG Caren cabs to. So they offer some reliefs like monthly payouts and such.

Actually they have another alternatives. Unlike diesel powered taxis, which has no demand on the market, CNG cabs are just like normal passengers cars which can be sold to the average man on the street. Nevermind if you are think that nobody wants to buy, because I think that if the price is right, the transaction can be done.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Interesting Article

Interesting article by Ieuan Dolby

Catch a Taxi in Singapore

Some extracts:

"And the strangest thing is that if you are not going in his direction or to where he wants to go, then he will not pick you up. Amazing but true! Taxi drivers are very obstinate and although Singaporeans like to make money above all else the taxis do not follow that rule. For them food and sleep is more important and so if they are coming towards the end of their shift or feel like dinner, then they will not pick you up unless you want to go where they are going. It is quite possible to stop five or more cabs in a run only for the drivers to shake their heads and zoom off leaving you stranded and confused. A very frustrating time indeed! "

"Life though is more interesting than trying to catch a taxi. Life gets more active when one is inside and on the way to their destination. The average driver in Singapore is good. The average taxi driver in Singapore is definitely in need of help. Psychological help in some cases and others just need some basic lessons in driving. The roads in Singapore can be awkward as the forward momentum of the vehicle is constantly disrupted as another stop sign looms up, as another intersection needs to be navigated or another accident causes the whole system to falter. But the taxi drivers even with a smooth road ahead of them constantly apply the breaks and then the gas causing the passengers heads to hit the seat in front of them and then to be thrown backwards against the rear window. "

"It was when we where zooming along at way past the speed limit, that I looked closer at my driver. He was asleep and soundly so and we where heading straight for the oncoming lane. I acted instinctively and jumped across my prospective killer and adjusted the wheel and thus the cars’ direction to suit an accident free journey. Whilst doing that I jabbed my elbow into his shoulder (well, it turned out to be his face) to wake him up. A lucky save and if I had not been aware or had fallen asleep …… pancake time. I never fall asleep in a taxi after that experience. "

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