There is probably an index on the state of the Singapore economy that can be created: the number of taxi bookings per hour. You see, when the economy is not doing all that well, fewer people book for taxis, even when they are at a taxi stand. When the economy is doing well, you will see not a few people with a cell-phone seemingly stuck to their ears even as they queue up for taxis. In these times, they'd book for taxis even as empty ones come by. I suppose they just have too much money to burn, or they are showing off?
So you can't blame taxi companies for imposing a $3 surcharge for picking up passengers at Marina Bay Sands, really. Singaporeans just ask for it to happen. Sure other right thinking Singaporeans say this is profiteering at its worst, and I agree. But I also say that Singaporeans should stop calling taxis willy nilly to give the impression that they have a lot of excess cash in their pockets which they are more than happy to hand over to the cabby, not that I have anything against cabbies. Some of my friends are cabbies. This was exactly what happened yesterday as I waited for a cab at a taxi stand. Sure there were 5 people ahead of me, so I had to wait. I looked around and there were 3 people apparently wishing to jump the queue by 'ordering' a taxi. The booking took a while but a 'booked' taxi duly came and the commuter was off. Then almost immediately, 3 empty cabs came at one go, and that cleared the queue dramatically. I don't think this was luck or anything. It's just cabbies cruising for business, that's all. I wondered if the 'booker' had just been more patient, she would have saved some money. And there were still 2 people booking for a taxi as the queue cleared. If there is demand, the supply will be more than willing to oblige, is it not so? If people are willing to spend $3.20 booking fees, then what is $3 for the speed of the service at Marina Bay Sands? After all, it is a hip and happening place where people are supposed to have their pockets overflowing with cash after a day at the Casino? At least, some of them?
The problem is of our own making, not only in MBS, but anywhere else in Singapore. My heart always sinks when I see cell-phones appearing at taxi stands. I can understand this behaviour if the person is somewhere in Tuas, or even some less remote parts of Singapore, but at a taxi stand? I don't blame the cabbies for seizing the opportunity of making a couple of bucks more. If there is money to be made from stupid people, why not? People's stupidity is the least of their problems.
p.s. Come to think of it, probably the Competition Commission and the Public Transport Council (PTC), and probably also the LTA, should investigate the collusive behaviour of all 6 taxi companies deciding that a surcharge should be levied on taxi trips made out of Marina Bay Sands. Or are they in on this too?