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Settling taxi fares in Kuala Lumpur

31 Aug 2008 by Ciprian Hirlea

Business travellers familiar with getting around Kuala Lumpur, know that pollution and horrendous traffic jams aren’t the only thing that sets their teeth on edge. It’s also the infamous antics of taxi drivers, many of whom refuse to use their meter systems, choosing instead to charge exorbitant flat rates that differ substantially from standard prices.

These notorious cabbies have been known to cite anything from the inclement weather or traffic conditions to even late nights to justify their claims for extra earnings. There have even been a few reports they turn menacing when hapless customers attempt to bargain.

Aware of this long-running problem, the management of some hotels have sat down with leading taxi companies to discuss ways to enhance the commuting experience for their guests. Rekha Dutt, assistant director of marketing and communications, Sunway Lagoon Resorts, said they were greatly concerned about “the numerous issues that crop up when flagging a taxi by the roadside”.

To protect clients, the hotel has mandated that its taxi partner (in this case, Metro Travel & Tour Service) “meets certain criteria or provides certain services”.

According to Dutt, these requirements include full disclosure of the driver’s details, fixed rates for destinations vetted by the local authorities and the automatic issuing of receipts for guests using the taxi services. She added that the hotel and taxi firm set a pre-agreed pricing to avoid the flare ups, both verbal and physical, that could happen between passenger and cabbie in a roadside situation.

But should time and schedules permit, Dutt suggested that visitors consider trying “other modes of public transportation (in Kuala Lumpur), ranging from the Light Rail Transit to the monorail or even the bus service”.

While reaching one’s appointment may take a bit longer, it will prove cheaper and free of any argument with an unscrupulous cabbie. And you get a glimpse of local life, too, in the bargain.

Kenneth Cheong

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