Monday, 24 November 2014

Jakarta Airport train construction begins

Leaving Jakarta - Soekarno-Hatta airport
View outside gate at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport
creative commons image by asiacamera on Flickr
Good news for travellers to Indonesia!

No longer just a promise, there is news today that construction has begun on a rail link that will connect Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK) with both East Jakarta Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport (HLP) and the city centre.

The new express train will reduce the travel time between the two airports from 1 to 3 hours by taxi, to just 30 minutes. This will help facilitate the transfer of more domestic airlines from the over-capacity Soekarno-Hatta Airport to Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta. Construction on the Soekarno-Hatta Airport train terminal has commenced.

Several new train stations will be built to serve the Greater Jakarta area. According to Muhammad Fadhila, KAI Railink's president director, in the Jakarta Post, new station locations are planned in Batu Ceper, Tangerang, and adjacent to the existing Sudirman station in Jakarta city centre.

IHateTaxis has heard of completion dates in both 2016 and 2017, so we'll have to wait and see, but this new Jakarta airport train service will be welcome, whenever it arrives!

Related resources
Jakarta airport begins construction of train station
19 investors eye airport express train project
Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK) transportation guide
East Jakarta Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport (HLP) transportation guide
Jakarta Layover Ideas and Things to Do in Jakarta

Thursday, 20 November 2014

New Cab Share app is a mixed review!

Back Seat of a Taxi
Cab sharing = BFFL?
Image: richpompetti on flickr, creativecommons
by Todd Romaine

In the brave new taxi world of Uber, others are also creating innovations that link smart phone technology, the internet, and attempted cost savings to the consumer. For a few Canadian student inventors, their cabshare app (cabshareanada.ca, @cabsharecanada) is an attempt to link consumers into one taxi versus two by creating a social platform to connect passengers heading out in the same direction. And in theory, it makes total sense to cut down on fares but one wonders the actual practicality of it in real time. While it makes sense at an airport or train station to link up with another passenger to travel in the same direction, it is less likely to happen outside of major transportation nodes. And even if it does work, you would need to figure out who is paying what amount and by what means. It is highly improbable both random travelers are going to the exact address and, of course, whether or not a taxi driver will accept payments in half cash, half credit.

In other words, the bartering process could continue throughout your journey with both the other passenger and the driver. Also, all too often, taxi drivers are onto this perceived scheme and will attempt to double charge the fare and treat individuals seperately.

Also for those anti-social types, whom prefer to be using your smartphone for the whole ride to the airport or elsewhere you now are somewhat obligated to engage in idle chit chat with your new found friend. The same individual that may be creeping your Facebook profile later on and assuming a friendship exists because of awkward chat in a taxi?

All in all, is it really worth it? For some people, it will be, but for individuals like myself I would prefer avoiding the unnecessary complexities of a routine task of getting from A to B. The cost of privacy and a silent ride without potential haggling with the person next to you is worth the extra few dollars in my perspective.

Related resources
New Vancouver app provides alternative to Uber
Free Taxi Vancouver - one guy in a chicken suit
Dear Canadian Taxi Monopoly: your Uber Boogie Man doesn't scare me
Uber provides the taxi industry a good kick in the pants

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Free Taxi Vancouver - one guy in a chicken suit


Yesterday, a new service, Free Taxi Vancouver, began offering, yes, free taxi rides in Vancouver.

Kyle MacDonald kicked off the campaign on Reddit:
I'm giving out FREE taxi rides tonight in Vancouver to raise awareness of taxi industry reform.

Reportedly wearing a chicken costume, and tweeting his location via @YesFreeTaxi, Kevin even scored a CTV interview, coverage on CBC radio, and more. Kyle has since updated his Reddit post with stories about the people he helped.

Kyle MacDonald is known to think out of the box: he's the Canadian famously known as the "Red Paper Clip guy" (http://oneredpaperclip.blogspot.ca). In this latest venture, Kyle is seeking to raise awareness about Canadian taxi regulations and the need or reform.

The free rides for a night is a repeat of a similar stunt back in June, when @YesFreeTaxi first offered its first free rides for a night.


Related resources
Assessing and Reforming Vancouver's Taxi Regulations (Bob Proctor, 2009)
Dear Canadian Taxi Monopoly: your Uber Boogie Man doesn't scare me
Taxi Truths campaign puts lipstick on a pig


Dear Canadian Taxi Monopoly: your Uber Boogie Man doesn't scare me

by Todd Romaine

 If you want to see the war on Uber in Canada, check out this recently compiled website that hopes to dispel the 'sensationalist' claims by Uber that it will offer consumers more affordable choices when it comes to ground transportation: http://taxitruths.ca/

A quick review of the website reveals an amateur approach to marketing, with disjointed arguments about the case against an alternative provider, mixed in with irrelevant facts about taxis in Canada. 

You see, the taxi monopoly in Canada has never had to market their services to consumers per se, but rather spends their time working on politicians to limit new entries to market and increase fares. They have been waging a war on consumers for years to force you to pay more and wait more. If you can control the supply side of things, you can manipulate the demand favourably. This is one taxi truth they don't want you to know about, but rather are creating the Uber Boogie Man to scare off consumers to the notion of "choice" which would increase supply, draw down demand, and reduce overall costs for the traveler.

Under their page of "The Truth", the Canadian Taxi Monopoly indirectly paints future Uber drivers as insecure and the service of limited value. In other words, you will be uninsured and be driven by some amateur driver versus a seasoned, professional taxi operator. That somehow driving a motor vehicle is a specialized skill set now that should disqualify people like you and I from entry into this exclusive market. And despite Uber's legitimate claim of insurance coverage exceeding that of the taxi industry, the Canadian Taxi Monopoly continues to spread untruths about coverage because ultimately their arguments are that weak.

Furthermore, as a final desperate plea for you to discard new entrants into the marketplace, the Canadian Taxi Monopoly is appealing to the consumers' moral compass to suddenly link Uber's entry as negative in the form of job losses and earning a decent wage. In other words, we are being told monopolies are good because they artificially keep some people in business.

The most hilarious part of this whole debacle is that somehow the Canadian Taxi Monopoly think that consumers will actually go to this website and become ardent supporters of theirs in this "selfless campaign". For too long the Canadian Taxi Monopoly has disregarded the consumer when it comes to professionalism, not hiring fluent and polite drivers and essentially cutting costs while lobbying for rising prices. Now they want us to get "educated" so that we can have more of the same!

No thanks.

I want choice and cheaper fares please.


Related resources
New website features 'Taxi Truths' and takes aim at Uber
UberX: Innovation or Anarchy? A Look at the Pros and Cons of Montreal’s New Ridesharing App
Stop Those Who Would Stop Uber
Taxi Truths campaign puts lipstick on a pig
Canadian Taxi Monopoly is attempting to curb consumer choice
Uber provides the taxi industry a good kick in the pants

Monday, 10 November 2014

Taxi Truths campaign puts lipstick on a pig

Lipstick on a pig.
'Taxi Truths' letter to Canadians kicks off national campaign
Image by @MickCoulas
In the latest move of desperation, Canada's biggest taxi companies have banded together to launch national advertising and a new website.

They're calling it a conversation with Canadians, but it's a one-way campaign built on fear mongering anti-Uber campaigns to date in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.

The new website, Taxi Truths, touts the benefits of taking a licensed taxi, With a groovy website design (it's actually rather clever), and even implying it has own app, Taxi Truths is trying to show it is "with it", but it's clearly lipstick on a pig.

Armed with data and arguments on the side of safety, security and accessibility (the claim on value will be disputed), the Canadian Taxicab Operators fail to grasp the role sharing has on the psyche of Canadians on the move, in the time of the exploding sharing economy.

Will it work? Only time will tell, but we are clearly in the side if the skeptics.

The Canadian Taxicab Companies group lists its members in Calgary (Checker Group, Associated Cab Company), Edmonton (Taxi Service Group), Montreal (Taxi Diamond), Ottawa (Coventry Connections), Toronto (Royal Taxi) and Vancouver (MacLure’s Cabs, Vancouver Taxi, Yellow Cab, Black Top & Checker Cabs). Perhaps fearing it's next to hit Uber's radar, the site also lists Winnipeg (UniCity Taxi, Duffy’s Taxi) is also listed on the site.

Related resources
Taxi companies start national anti-Uber campaign
New website features 'Taxi Truths' and takes aim at Uber
Canadian Taxi Monopoly is attempting to curb consumer choice
Uber provides the taxi industry a good kick in the pants

Friday, 7 November 2014

Canadian Taxi Monopoly is attempting to curb consumer choice

London anti-Uber taxi protest June 11 2014 036
Anti-Uber taxi protest chaos in London in June - is Vancouver next?
Creative Commons image by zongo on Flickr
by Todd Romaine

Desperate last straw efforts to save an archaic monopoly will be hitting Canadian airwaves in the coming days as the Canadian Taxicab Association (@CTA_Taxi) tries to argue that taking an “unregulated vehicle” is the same thing as having some stranger with no flying experience operate your flight.

Yes, this is how silly it is getting to try to convince consumers to stay with a system that profits handsomely by ensuring an undersupply of taxis and causing endless frustrations in commuters. The idea of introducing more drivers on the road whom will charge less money than the traditional monopolistic rates has this industry running scared that competition will mean less fares and more accountability to customer service.

In Uber’s defense, they do background checks on the drivers and look after insurance. Whether a taxi driver is better than a regular driver is highly subjective however.

To compare driving a motor vehicle to that of flying a sophiscated flying machine is just plain silly and is insulting to commuters that want to reduce their waiting time and the ensuing bill for their commute.

In Vancouver, a 6 month moratorium was placed on the issuance of more taxi licenses which thereby prohibits Uber from entering the market.

In addition, Vancouver cab companies have gone as far as to launch a lawsuit against Uber, even before they have actually started business in the city. Politicians have thus far weighed in on the side of the traditional taxi operators, but there is little doubt that the free market and providing consumers with greater choice will sweep over the old age era of convenient protectionism for those maintaining an arguably corrupt fiefdom that deliberately limits competition despite overwhelming evidence of increasing demand.

As a mechanism to bolster growing support in Vancouver, Uber launched a job fair for new drivers and has created an online petition (over 6,000 signatures to date) to be circulated to the City of Vancouver requesting entrance to address an arguably growing business need.

For the taxi monopoly, the age old tricks of lawsuits and intimidation will eventually backfire so its high time they accept Uber as a legitimate competitor and begin to enhance customer service and reduce fares if they wish to stay in business over the long term.

Related resources:
UberX targeted by cab companies with ad campaign over safety
Uber launches online petition to raise public support for Vancouver service
Uber block: Vancouver taxi companies seek injunction against ride-share service
Uber Vancouver to get undercover government checks to enforce taxi regulations
Cities must crack down on the scourge of convenient, efficient taxi service
Uber provides the taxi industry a good kick in the pants

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Shuddle: Paying strangers to drive your kids? Yes, exactly!

A ride as safe as mom's?
A revolutionary offspring to Uber has recently been launched in San Francisco that will see parents paying strangers to drive their kids to ball practice, ballet, or other recreational / school events.

Shuddle was designed to provide parents with a viable option for a child-minded taxi service. Subject to proper screening (criminal record search, experience with children, and positive past job references), Shuddle's launch has led to more than 100 approved drivers to date (all females).

Parents will book their Shuddle rides no later than 10am the day before and will get a driver profile emailed to them, including a photograph, driving history and reviews. A password will provided by the assigned Shuddle driver to the parents prior to the children entering into this default taxi service, to confirm authenticity. Parents will strictly pay by credit card and, in addition, will be charged a monthly retainer fee of USD 9.00.

The resultant outcome, if it all comes together, will be a new service across North America that will provide a cheaper alternative to that of expensive taxis.

Of course it will likely just take one or two incidents to potentially cause a public relations nightmare for Shuddle. The day a child gets kidnapped, or there is a serious car accident, the uproar could derail this business during its initial launch. Optimistically, however, it is unlikely that one very bad experience will dampen the market demand for a reliable, secure and affordable option for parents desperately looking for someone to shuttle their kids to activities.

In a perfect world, parents would do this job full-time, but in an era of two parents working to make ends meet, this service will likely grow exponentially.

 Related resources:

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Manila's latest colorum taxi scam

Rush Hour
Light traffic in Manila
creative commons, wingmarc on Flickr
In late September, a new Manila colorum taxi scam emerged, targetting Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport passengers. 'Colorum' is a Filipino slang term used to refer to illegal vehicles.The incident occured in Makati, one of the 16 cities that make up Metro Manila.

In this latest Manila taxi scam, while travelling, the car's motor suddenly conks out, forcing the driver to pull over. After checking under the hood, the driver beckons for his passenger to get out, to observe or assist in some way.

Once the passenger is outside the taxi, the driver gets back in, miraculously starts the engine, and speeds off with the passenger's luggage and possessions, leaving the passenger stranded.

The entire incident is facilitated by a hidden switch which the driver uses to turn the engine off and on.

Tip: whatever happens, do not get out of your taxi, or if you must, take your valuables with you! Better yet, stick to official taxis.

There has been a crackdown on colorum vehicles (taxis, buses) in Manila since August 2014, taking hundreds of vehicles off the road.

Related resources:

Friday, 17 October 2014

Headed to one of the 10 most dreaded?

The visually stunning architecture of the immense Hajj Terminal at
Jeddah KAIA Airport, built to handle 80,000 pilgrims simultaneously
(the holes in the roof elements allow natural air-conditioning).
Unfortunately it's still crowded and uncomfortable inside.
(creative commons, FoxyGuy on Flickr)

Yesterday, Sleeping in Airports announced the results of their Best Airports of 2014 and Worst Airports of 2014.

Inspired by the Worst list, our sister-site, LayoverIdeas.com, wrote a corresponding blog post of layover ideas, in case you are headed to one of these famously dreaded airports:

1. Islamabad Benazir Bhutto International Airport (ISB)
2. Jeddah King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED)
3. Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport (KTM)
4. Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL)
5. Tashkent International Airport (TAS)
6. Paris Beauvais International Airport (BVA)
7. Frankfurt Hahn International Airport (HHN)
8. Milan Bergamo International Airport (BGY)
9. Berlin Tegel International Airport (TXL)
10. New York LaGuardia International Airport (LGA)

Click here to read Layover Ideas for the World's Worst Airports.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Make your own bed and sleep in it at Westin!

Heavenly Bed in Room 470 at the Westin Maui
Do you feel like making your own Heavenly Bed at Westin?
The Westin Hotel chain is now offering you money to make your own bed!

If you ever plan to spend a night or two at Westin Hotels & Resorts in North America, you will now be offered up to $5.00/day voucher for meals or club points to forego housekeeping. The Make a Green Choice microsite touts the green benefits of the promotion. As Westin is part of the Starwood Hotel & Resorts brand, the club points available for those who opt in are Starwood Preferred Guest (aka SPG) points.

The $5 a day can add up quite quickly, if you are a frequent traveler and spending multiple nights in the same hotel chain. And let's be perfectly honest here - who really needs their room cleaned every day anyhow? There are enough towels in the room to last several days and most of us are quite hygienic to avoid daily bed sheets being changed.

Do I get a treat for making my own bed?
Undoubtedly what Westin is doing will spread amongst other competing hotel chains, where the practice of incentifying customers with discounts, in order to pass on expected hotel services, will become the norm. Arguably, this could be yet another silent war to reduce the costly requirement of human labour in society, but ultimately, in the era of reward points, it will likely be widely popular among consumers.

At Westin, the front desk staff will offer you this incentive once you check-in, but thereafter they place the onus on you to bring down your coupons upon check-out or earlier in order to cash-in. If you forget these coupons in your room, or misplace them somewhere else, then your benefit becomes null and void and the hotel wins free and clear.

The program is also loaded with restrictions. You can't, for example, use your $5 towards an alcoholic drink. While you can use the coupon at the local Starbucks, how far does that $5 go? A small coffee, perhaps?

And how green is printing all those coupons? "If this was a truly green choice there should be an option not to get the cards and for Starwood to just post the points or take $5 off your bill for services. It can't be that hard to do it electronically and it would save paper," argues OasisNYK on  FlyerTalk forums.

Regardless, the truth is in how the program is working out - from the customer's perspective. A quick read of the Make a Green Choice Issues thread in the FlyerTalk forums reveals many inconsistencies, from coupons promised but not delivered and hotels running out of the cards, to inadequate garbage cans for guests to dump their own trash in to promised SPG rewards not assigned. Or how about the room cleaning that takes place despite opting in - or, worse, no room cleaning for guests who opt out of the program entirely? It does seem guests are spending an inordinate amount of time chasing down the supposed benefits of going green.

The hotel's argument is about "making a green choice" but let's get real: ultimately, this about saving money and passing a (small) portion of such reductions onto the consumer. Is it worth it to you as a guest?

Look for Westin Hotels & Resorts to extend their program globally later on next year. Let's hope they make it a whole lot greener (goodbye paper cards?), simpler and consistent before doing so.

Related resources: