Tue, 25 Oct 1994

Better taxi service needed

I'd like to share my dire experience at the Soekarno-Hatta airport recently so that would-be taxi passengers can be aware of an irritating problem.

On Saturday, Oct. 22, 1994, at about 6.30 p.m. on arrival at the airport's Terminal II from Surabaya, I joined the queue for a taxi. As my turn came a President taxi happened to be at the front of the taxi line. Before I boarded, the driver asked me where I was going and I informed him: "Slipi." Then he demanded a sum of Rp 20,000. Naturally I refused to pay that much as I knew the normal charge was Rp 11,000 to Rp 12,000 for that distance.

Instead I went to the next taxi in line, Express No 167 (if I'm not mistaken the plate number was B. 2538). When I opened the door the driver inquired why I did not take the President taxi. I told him why and insisted I wanted a taxi which utilizes the meter.

The Express taxi driver didn't say anything as I boarded. My conclusion was that he was willing to take me to Slipi with the meter on.

When we had traveled about 200 or 300 meters the driver said: "Please pay me Rp 25,000 for the ride." And switched the taxi- meter off.

I did not think the Express taxi driver a stupid fellow. He should have known that I would pay according to the meter, not in an outrageous amount requested. The driver insisted I should pay what he asked. Following a lengthy argument, I felt deeply annoyed and asked to be let out at the Damri's bus stop, still in the airport complex. "OK, pay me according to the meter, but you should also pay the toll fee for me to return to the airport," the driver said to me.

I objected strongly to this. There is no regulation which obliges a passenger from the airport to pay the toll fee for the taxi to return to the airport. The passenger has only to pay the toll fee leaving the airport.

I chose to alight at the bus stop in the airport complex, although it was already dark. The driver asked for compensation, at which I offered Rp 2000. He was still angry because he said he had paid Rp 2,500 as a surcharge to the airport official. I said I would pay the surcharge, keeping the surcharge card for myself (the card is usually for passengers to appraise the performance of the taxi driver).

The driver got even angrier and asked that I return the card. As I wished to shun further quarrel, I gave him the card and paid him Rp 1000.

I have been told it is common for taxi drivers at the airport to ask for specified amounts from passengers, rather that turn on their meters. It is detestable. The airport authorities should improve the taxi services, after all taxis are an airport facility that is in great demand. It is no use giving passengers a card by which they can appraise a driver's performance. The bad practice should be stopped if the system is expected to run smoothly.

My suggestion is that in order to get out of the airport it is much safer and also cheaper to take Damri buses rather than riding unreliable taxis. I also would like to appeal to the Express taxi management to educate their unruly drivers in order to maintain a good image of the company. Or is it something that has to be taken for granted?


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