It is supposed to make getting a cab more convenient but turned into passengers' nightmare instead, and money making machine for some parties.
Put it this way. If you're a cab driver, you would do the same thing. When you know demand is high, especially during peak hours, you just need to refuse street pick-up, knowing passengers are at your mercy, and just wait or maybe don't even need to, for booking calls instead and ending up with additional money.
We passengers have no choice but to call if we desperately need one. Ever wondered why a cab can respond within few minutes after you've made a booking call but before, you waited for way more than that?
Taxi company earn part of that booking charges as profits other than to cover operating calls. 17 million calls were made to Comfort alone in 2006, and proud of it as it was record breaking. Multiply that by $2.50, the cheapest rate and you easily get $42.5M. I do not know how much each party earns but it no small sum.
If taxi companies are truthful when they say profit isn't a factor for implementing the system, then they would have no issues in doing away with it, would they? Only then you will see the same number of cabs on the road regardless if it is peak or off peak periods. However, I have taken a cab ride where the driver was grateful to the system. He admitted that cabbies do abuse the system but also mentioned that with the system, they roam aimlessly around less. I do agree in a way.
So how do we go about this issue? Obviously scrapping the system altogether do cause a certain impact. If drivers drive aimlessly, they might rather wait and that will make passengers somewhere else wait too. We need a system that allows both parties to find each other.
Fact is, we already have the system. We just need remove the money-making part of it.
1. no one should profit from the calls.
2. cost of a call should only be sufficient to cover operating cost
This way, knowing that they will not earn a single cent from the calls, drivers will know which location is currently hot with passengers to pick up instead of driving aimlessly. As for abuse of the system by passengers, any cancelled calls will result with the number banned from calling in for a certain period.
This can be done. Question, do they want to?