Online I read a fair amount of people worried about taxi drivers not using the meter for cab rides in Johor Bahru. I have found that normally they do use the meter. Occasionally, taxi drivers do refuse to use the meter (even though I believe they are required to and the cabs are plastered with signs saying they must use the meter). I have noticed that if the taxi has to stand in a long queue, waiting for passengers, this problem is much more likely.
It would seem to me, that there is a systemic problem, if the taxi has to wait a long time for fares. It seems to me the best way to handle this would be to put a surcharge on those locations (there shouldn’t be too many). I have refused to pay non-meter fares, but will pay reasonable ones from now on, from locations with long queues.
Even when they want to charge a non-meter fare I think only twice have they asked for hugely unfair amounts (more than twice what the meter would be). Normally it is a maybe RM 5 above the meter, which isn’t ridiculously high (and they may be inflating it for me).
Calling the taxis usually will get you a taxi very quickly (within 5 minutes) which is quite convenient. I would imagine in some areas outside the Central Business District (CBD) it might be longer.
One of my driver’s stopped by the gas station and I noticed they were using compressed natural gas as the fuel. This is a smart move as globally there is a surplus of natural gas. Natural gas is also cleaner burning and contributes less to global warming than regular gasoline. The storage tanks are in the trunk for some reason.
The taxi drivers understand english to some degree. They are a bit less able to find places than I would expect, some are quite good but I have run into more than a handful that needed directions for pretty large places.
The cars are generally fairly old but decent. Normally they have decent air conditioning, but some are weak on this. Like Kuala Lumpor there is a “executive” class taxi that is blue and much more expensive – I don’t see them being worth it, myself. The cost of rides is 3 RM for the first 2 km plus 10 cen to every subsequent 115 meters. There is a RM 2 charge for calling a taxi for a pickup (Taxi Comfort number: 07 332 2852). There is a 50% surcharge between midnight and 6 AM.
In general people tip very little (like rounding up to the next RM). In general, I give a tip of 2 – 4.x RM. The taxi fares are reasonable and including a tip still results in a reasonable fair. Taxi drivers work hard for a living and giving a bit of a tip seems reasonable to me (for those who can easily afford it).
One note about taxis in Singapore – there really don’t seem to be enough. When I want one, I find large queues that hardly seem to move (so few taxis coming to the stand). And when it rains it is much worse.