Malaysia Insider

Malaysia insider

Taxing taxis

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Malaysians are very proud people, so there are few national topics that a foreigner can speak negatively about without causing offence. However, on one topic everyone agrees: taxis in Malaysia are terrible. Ask anyone.

The majority are Proton Sagas, a car launched in 1985 and churned out with no significant revisions until last year. It's not cutting-edge, comfortable motoring and it must make a terrible impression on the tourists who arrive in Malaysia expecting to be blown away by how modern and thrusting things are here.

This morning I got into a taxi that had no wing mirrors. That's a new low.

I should have known it wasn't going to go well when the driver tried to lie by saying they don't use meters in the middle of town. A small argument ensued and I, extremely begrudgingly, found myself handing over RM10 for a five-minute trip just because I was in a hurry and out of options.

It turned out that I didn't have to worry about the wing mirrors anyway — the driver didn't have any need for them. In fact, he didn't give the impression he needed any of the motoring accessories available to him, including indicators or brakes.

All in, it was entirely possible that the steering wheel, horn and accelerator were the only bits of his vehicle that he had any kind of passing acquaintance with. We eventually made it to my destination safely, but I can now see why the Pope kisses the ground whenever he arrives somewhere new. I felt like doing the same thing.

Have you had a dodgey taxi experience in Asia? Tell us about it.

User comments
My friend and I went to Malaysia in 2006 and had a really bad experience with Malaysian taxi. The taxi was in a really bad shape (it could not be road worthy), the driver refused to use a meter and charged us 15 RM for what turned out to be a 5 minute drive . We agreed to go only because we were running very late! Of course, factored in the exchange rate, the money was not much but the main point here is I do not like being ripped off.
Ok, first of all, let me state that I'm a Malaysian living in Melbourne as a resident. I've taken cabs all over the world...and while I admit that the cabs in Malaysia do leave a bit to be desired, we also have to admit that a) they don't earn much, b) upfront taxi rates can sometimes be cheaper than metered taxi rides, & c) Malaysia has some of the cheapest taxis in the world (particularly when you consider exchange rates). I recently came back from Thailand and found upfront taxi fees a custom there as well. Bottom line, regardless of where you are, it's always a good idea to negotiate the price of the ride (ask a local first), and take a note of the taxi driver's details & rego (for safety sake). Truthfully, I dread taking cabs in Melbourne more than I do in any other country. a) they're expensive, b) I had a driver swerve all over the road trying to read the melways WHILE driving, and c) I've had quite a few drivers who clearly missed their calling as Grand Prix drivers.
Ive just come back from my first trip to Malaysia and i used the taxis a lot, the trip from the airport to the hotel i pre paid at the airport and i must say it was a bargain at rm80 from the airport to the hotel at least an hours ride in a downpour, the only bad thing was the driver didnt know where my hotel was, had to ask other drivers for instructions and got constantly lost, the good side was as it was pre paid it wouldnt of mattered if he took me 100 miles out of the way i wasnt paying extra, also he did not speak english, which didnt help the situation, Everytime i wanted a taxi i asked at the hotel the rough price so that i knew in advance,but the drivers were a wealth of local knowledge and were very courteous to this ignorant foreigner I did find out from one driver that his taxi cost him 50 ringitts a day regardless of how much money he took, he was responsible for all repairs and fuel and servicing and he was working up to 16 hours a day to support his family
you guy are lucky meter start will rm2 i wonder do you guys got famaily to rise taxi driver is like us stop complain system is wrong not driver is the govt
the rule of taking a taxi in k,l, is to use a meter taxi,when you stop a taxi.check the taxi drivers lincence that is infront of the taxi dashboard,.if drivers refused to use meter,do not enter,,they are hundreds of taxis wanting to sent you using the meter but paxs not following the rules of the taking a taxii,if taxi drivers not using meter,do not him to J P J tel no.0340241200.what you need is the taxi number
It hurts to hear so many ugly comments about the taxi drivers especially from foreigners. One foreign person actually said that he can say it.... The moment there's a problem with taxis the focus is on the drivers. What about taxi companies and relevant authorities. They go on living their lives without any remorse for the sick condition of the taxi industry except occassional checks. Its much easier to point at poor, LOW educated desperate souls out there earning a descent living then to actually address actual root cause of the problem. How many ppl know what taxi drivers go thru? Paying average RM 1200 monthly to company or taxi gets repossesed. Unpleasant truth - A taxi driver has 2 hold his urine in the car coz he can't go even when nature calls which results stone in the bladder problem and if he doesn't drink enough, kidney problem. Many drivers have died of diseases. None of them insured. What about their children? In fact taxi insured only for 3rd party. so much more.....
you guys are lucky that the taxi driver only charged you double.My experience was that 7 out of 8 times having a taxi charging me 4 to 5 times!! An example was a 5 mins drive costed me 20 RM in KL. I agree with the comment from Malaysian. The government or concerned authority should do something to correct this situation. (taxi drivers are controlled by gangsters at terminal stations, that is why even good taxi drivers in Malaysia dare not to charge less at terminal stations). Frankly, apart from the bad taxi drivers, experience as a tourist 7 days in Malaysia was really fantastic, relaxed and enjoyable!!
Applause to Dave, Canberra. Well said my dear pal. You completely took out all my sorrows swallowed in silence during my time as a taxi driver. First & foremost no offense to tourist. We, Malaysians love you too. How I wished there were stickers like those in Thailand " We love Farangs " I use meter. Locals understand and will "tip" me extra. Tourist????Expat???Probably forgot about currency exchange rate. Few tips which may be of a little assistance. 1) Ask locals for estimate charges to your destination. 2) Don't worry about not having another taxi coming since you have already waited. 5 minutes don't make any difference. 3) Tell taxi drivers the amount you willing to pay and destination. It's either a yes or no..straightforward. 4) Choose taxi's which belongs to a company and not pirate taxi's. At Least you can complain to them or authorities. Note down cab number or taxi code number. Tourist enjoy more priorities compared to locals.
Having been living in Malaysia for ten years I totally agree on this article. Malaysian taxi drivers in general are horrible. You have to bargin for a price when you get on it or if they use the meter, they will 1. not follow it 2. use the longest possible route 3. modify the meter so it jumps faster (in some cases). And speaking of making a living. Please do not compare to the standard in Australia as they do not have a high living standard. RM5 can get you a decent meal. Malaysians govt from time to time will enforce the use of meters in taxi when the complaints hype up and then when things quiet down, its all over again. And then is the case of safety, the amount of rapes, kidnapp killing from taxi is horrible as well. These sort of news never gets out of the country. I was told not to use taxi as much as possible. The locals do not use taxi as much, mainly because they will have their own transport (either a motor bike or a tiny car as soon as they have a driving license)
I come from Malaysia and the taxi drivers there are making very little for what they do. The government should change the system so that they can earn more and upgrade their vehicle and services. Don't be a scrooge, the taxis here are far more expensive here!!!

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