As London Black Cab continues to thrive, KL’s red-white taxis seem to be on verge of extinction

CALL this a contrast of fortune. As China’s Geely who is the owner of London Black Cab is planning to invest heavily to turn the city’s iconic black taxis into a high-volume, all-electric brand with a range of commercial and passenger vehicles, the fate of Kuala Lumpur’s very own red and white taxis is seemingly sealed or rife with uncertainties.

This is understandably so till Perikatan Nasional (PN) Bukit Gantang MP Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal is wondering what are the future plans that the government has in store for the cabbies.

“Will our taxis be overtaken by the times? For big cities like London, they have their own iconic identity,” interrupted the Bersatu representative during the Transport Ministry’s Budget 2024 winding up in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday (Nov 2).

“As we, too, have our red and white taxis in Kuala Lumpur, I wish to ask the minister if there is a future for the taxi drivers or will soon been ‘swallowed’ by Grab (e-hailing service provider).”

Datuk Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal (Pic credit: HarakahDaily)

In his response, Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook highlighted the fact that the quality of public transport services is very dependent on the operator.

“Whatever the user’s choice is, comfort of passengers must always come first. As such, to the question whether there’s a future for taxis or not, the answer is certainly there’s a future,” envisages Loke who is also the Seremban MP.

“But with a condition that they also have to change in terms of digitisation, online systems and also their services,” he insisted.

However, as to whether the local taxi services will be completely taken over by e-hailing is very much dependent on market forces.

For now, the DAP secretary-general noted that the Transport Ministry allows both modes of transport to operate together with taxi drivers permitted to offer their services through the e-hailing application. – Nov 3, 2023

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