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The government, under the Economic Transformation Program to encourage the use of public transport in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur (KL), has introduced the (currently) free buses to favourite destinations around the city centre. It has proved so popular that the taxi drivers in KL picketed in Jalan Bukit Bintang (a  popular  tourist area), venting their grouses and  asking the government to stop the service as it has affected their income by 70%. And the Star, last Thursday, on its front page screamed  ” Serve them right!”

GoKL bus- Free,air-con, free WiFi, popular routes … way to go people!

No meter and fare haggling with KL taxi driver ( The STAR) 

I think the newspaper sums up very well the feelings of the general public in KL regarding the poor taxi service in the city. From refusing to take passengers to their chosen destination to outright cheating, refusing to use the meter and overcharging, the taxi drivers ( not all of them) have been king of the road. They have repeatedly ignored the calls by the authorities to improve their service and now this free bus service has woken them from their slumber. They instead accuse the authorities for lack of enforcement. Now, why can’t their association of 8000 drivers also formulate a form of group enforcement to keep their errant brothers in line?

Those who have taken the taxi to go around KL can testify to the fact that the service leaves much to be desired. Try calling for a taxi at peak hours or during a rainy day, you might as well just walk to your destination.

People who sympathise with these taxi drivers have obviously never taken any taxi in KL. some taxis are dirty and smelly and drivers are glum and unfriendly, as if we are causing them problem for riding in their taxi! Just fancy that.

A sullen KL taxi driver watching GoKL bus… yes, serve them right indeed.

My sister in law from outstation ever related about how a taxi driver was very unhappy when she boarded the taxi at KL central, using coupon system, to go to a hotel at Jalan Bukit Bintang  for her meeting. He then proceeded to drive fast, haphazardly and dangerously and,upon reaching the hotel, had refused to come out to help lift her heavy bag from the boot. He would probably not take her there had it not been for the coupon. He was free to be unhappy but he certainly did not have to be vile to an innocent customer.

The horror stories about KL taxi drivers are just too numerous and tarnishing Malaysian image they are. Only a competition would make them realise that they cannot continue their bad habits forever.

The government should not bow to their selfish demands as they have only themselves to blame for the situation they find themselves in. For every one of them there are hundreds more customers who are also voters who deserve good quality public transportation in a busy metropolis.

GoKL is definitely one of the strategies which endear this government to the people. Out of the many pre-general election  “gifts” recently dished out to the rakyat, this free bus service  is surely more appreciated in the longer term.

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