Severe flooding drowns out Ho Chi Minh City taxi drivers

By VnExpress   September 29, 2016 | 11:41 pm PT
Severe flooding drowns out Ho Chi Minh City taxi drivers
“The weather conditions hurt everyone,” said Grab Taxi chief executive. Photo by VGP
When it rains heavily, money is not enough to make taxi drivers risk the streets of Ho Chi Minh City.

On rainy days, it's logical for people in Ho Chi Minh City to take a taxi and leave their bikes at home, and one would assume that there would be more taxis out on the streets in the hunt for passengers.

However, this logic goes out of the window when it really starts to pour down in the southern city and severe flooding ensues. There is no benefit to driving in torrential rain, according to the city’s cab drivers.

In the wet season, the roads in Ho Chi Minh City, which are already overstretched by heavy traffic and prolonged road works, are quickly flooded.

It is difficult to find a taxi on those days, and that's simply because the drivers don't think it's worth it.

“You’d expect rainy days to be good days for us, but it is not the way things go. Business gets worse in the rain [because of] congested traffic and flooded streets,” said Tuan, a Grabcar cabby, who said driving in the rain is extremely unpleasant as traffic drags and it takes longer to get to the destination.

Nguyen Tuan Anh, chief executive of budget taxi hailing service Grab Taxi, said despite high demand for cars, prices jump on rainy days and the company is failing to deliver services to those in need.

“We simply can’t reach our customers,” said Tuan Anh, referring to many downtown areas that are sometimes submerged under half a meter of water.

He added that many cabs break down in the floods, while those that manage to keep their engines running get stuck in traffic jams.

Many taxis in the city broke down during the torrential rains on Monday this week, and some were write offs.

Vinasun, which has around 6,000 cabs operating chiefly in and around Ho Chi Minh City, had dozens of broken down cabs, said general manager Ta Long Hy.

“Business was slack,” said Hy. He blamed the massive flooding for dragging the business down. Many people thought it was not worth going out and hailing a cab would be a waste of time, Hy continued. Supply had issues too, as drivers chose to stay away from treacherous roads.

In miserable weather, the supply-and-demand curve is put to the test. Hailing mobile app Uber applies what is called “surge pricing” to get more Ubers on the road. And in reality, prices shot up three to four times the normal rate on Monday.

“Higher prices are required in order to get cars on the road and keep them on the road during the busiest times,” CEO Travis Kalanick said in a Facebook post.

However, the surge pricing failed to give the drivers enough incentives to go around a city that was mostly under water on Monday.

“The weather conditions hurt everyone,” said Tuan of Grab Taxi.

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