Taxis … a long wait…


Living in Asia, it’s common for people to rely on public transportation and taxis. I want to say taxis are plentiful in Singapore but it really depends on the time of the day and your location, so luck basically. Taxis here are however definitely cheaper than back home in Canada and the US.

It’s usually relative easy to flag one down and exponentially faster to call for one (surcharges=more $), except in the rain or shift change time. But with a dog? A medium sized dog? Two dogs?

Just yesterday I was stuck at K9 for over an hour, trying to get a taxi. The first one left, without letting us know. He didn’t know we had a dog. This is where the breakdown is. The dispatcher puts out a call, a taxi driver takes it, and the customer is given his cab license number and the ETA. If the driver decides not to come or just leaves, the dispatcher doesn’t send any messages or call the customer. It’s a nasty two-way street since a lot of people jump into an available cab while theirs is on the way, without canceling the booking.

That morning I easily got three taxis and had a couple of quite dog-friendly taxi uncles. I thought I had taxi-luck for the day! What a contrast that afternoon was.  As I patiently waited and waited and waited some more, I relished the days when I had a car and not at the mercy of fickle taxi drivers or when the taxi gods take a break.

I also wondered how the situation can be improved. It seemed a little easier getting a cab in Hong Kong. The dog-surcharge probably makes some difference. The Singapore cab fare structure was changed a few years ago to include several layers of surcharges during peak hours (which extends to 8pm, with a lovely CBD surcharge from 5 to midnight, Monday to Saturday). So what’s another surcharge? $2.50 extra for dogs? Hong Kong charges $5HKD.

In other parts of the world, dogs are even allowed on public transportation. I remember seeing dogs on train rides in France, Germany, and Italy (more than 10 years ago). In the UK, dogs are allowed on buses, at the discretion of the drivers (except guide dogs who are allowed at all times). In the US, it varies state to state, company to company. In Hong Kong, people discreetly carry their dogs in purses on buses and mini vans, though officially it’s not allowed. Dogs, however, are welcomed on ferries, free on the Discovery Bay ferries and a small fee on others. Living in Discovery Bay, we regularly took our two dogs across the way to Mui Wo on the kai-to. 

Singapore society is definitely not ready for dogs on public transportation. Dog ownership is pretty new still here and the fear of dogs is rampant and dramatic. Thinking about dogs on buses is just daydreaming while I passed the time, waiting for a taxi.

I’m just hoping it’ll get a little easier getting a taxi for myself, when I have a dog, and when I have two dogs.  The taxi uncle I usually call (who LOVE dogs) is retiring soon. Alamak!


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