There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover
Just you wait and see
Well, I don’t know about Dover, but over here in Jakarta last Tuesday some 10,000 striking taxi drivers, including from the hitherto most recommended Bluebird fleet, produced some ugly scenes over white taxis bearing passengers, and total traffic chaos.
Not that I’m condoning mob violence and intimidation, but I do think they, and the drivers of most other taxi fleets. have justifiable reasons to be angry. The basic problem is that over the past couple of years a number of companies have opened up app based personal transport door-to-door services. The first on the scene was Go-Jek who ‘professionalised’ the ojek (motorbike taxi) system, which was, and in some areas still is, basically under the control of local gangs.
If I wanted to use an ojek regularly, I’d certainly use Go-Jek. A crash helmet is provided, there’s no haggling over fares, and if anything goes wrong, then there is company back up. As it is, there are no ojeks suitable for my frame, and given the chaotic road conditions, I figure four wheels are safer than two. Besides, for general purposes I value public more than private transport.
More recently Uber, with its headquarters in San Francisco, and Grab Taxis, from Malaysia, have hit the streets. In using driver-owned vehicles, capital investment is reduced, and therefore the need to acquire land for overnight depots. Having representative offices has, so far meant that their operations are not governed by the regulations enforced on public transport operators. Potential passengers have been attracted by their low fares, compared to those of licensed and metered taxis. Presumably taxes are paid by the drivers, but in not having a local company managing operations, corporate taxes are avoided.
Hence the current low fares, but all that may change. The two major licensed taxi companies, Bluebird and Express are highly profitable, yet their drivers earn an average just 35% more than the basic set by City Hall. Not all of the cabs have GPS, and although, to my knowledge, one can order and schedule a ride from all taxi companies, they have not yet caught up with the app based operators.
Maybe they should.
As of Friday, the government have given Uber and Grab until May 31st get all the necessary licences to operate. This will also require their drivers to get a licence to drive public transport vehicles. That Grab claim to have started the process some three months ago should serve as a warning to potential investors in Indonesia: the bureaucracy will ensnare you regardless of pronouncements from decision makers.
Uber’s slogan is ‘Where Lifestyle Meets Logistics’, so would I use them or Grab?
Nope, I don’t have a smart phone, and don’t wish to dumb down to the lifestyle they refer to. I’m quite happy to go off line, to spend quality time with a book, in discussion or listening to music. In other words, I make time for creativity, for thinking, and developing because I value my lengthy attention span.
So excuse me: there’s a wresting repeat I want to catch on the sport channel.
BTW. I found the image above on Reggy Hasibuan’s Farcebook page. He’s a funny guy, so check him out.