How taxi booking apps are changing the way Singaporeans travel

Private car services like Grab and Uber are giving local cab companies a run for their money. But more importantly, it’s helping Singapore move toward a more car-lite city (slowly, but surely) with the introduction of carpooling services and giving Singaporeans more choice and convenience by partnering with the current pool of cab companies.

We’re cautiously excited about the current state of transport options in our city, but we do hope that more could be done to help even out the competition that the cabbies are facing. Here’s what’s been cookin’ lately.

Grab partners with two local taxi operators

In the last two months, Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing company Grab has partnered with Singapore’s second largest taxi operator Trans-cab, as well as Premier Taxis, bringing the number of drivers on Grab’s fleet to more than 40,000. The latter partnerships will see cheaper booking fees—from the usual $4.50 to $3.30 during peak hours, and $2.50 instead of $2.30 during off-peak hours.

You can now schedule rides with Uber

There are times in the morning when you’re running late and there just aren’t any rides. Enter Uber’s new “Schedule A Ride” option—after jumping out of the bed in a panic, don’t hit the shower just yet. Open up the Uber app and select this new option to schedule a car—yes even 15 minutes beforehand. According to them, you can schedule a ride 15 minutes to 30 days in advanced at any time of the day, “except at major events in the city” (we’re thinking festivals like ZoukOut, Neon Lights, countdown parties, et cetera). Oh, if you’re heading to the airport, you can schedule a ride there, but not the other way round.

More people can try the world’s first driverless cab service

Grab is just killin’ it with all the partnerships they’ve announced. This time, it’s with autonomous vehicle software startup nuTonomy, which has been running the world’s first public trial of self-driving taxis. Now that Grab is in cahoots with the startup, the public trial has been expanded to a bigger audience. There is now a special “Robo-Car Trial” icon on the Grab app to book a ride, which will be free-of-charge. But as great as that sounds now, there’s a catch—at the moment, customers can only travel within the One-North business district and nearby neighborhoods, but any further than that, the safety driver takes over.

A local app promises $5 rides to anywhere

“Speed like taxi, price like bus,” is the motto of this new local on-demand ride-sharing app called SWAT. It’s basically carpooling, but on a bus. You can book a ride 30 minutes to 24 hours in advanced after which, you’ll have to head over to a designated waiting area that they promise will be less than 300 meters. $5 seems almost impossible to believe, but of course they come with their own set of conditions as well. Firstly, it only operates on weekdays between 7am-10am; the ride might be a little longer than a taxi and currently only serves the Northern, Central and Southern areas of Singapore (think Yio Chu Kang, Ang Mo Kio, Toa Payoh and down to the CBD). Never hurts to try really. Besides, at this point, you’ll be an early adopter if you do.

Electric cars are a thing

Come mid-2017, the LTA will be introducing its first fleet of 125 BlueSG cars as part of a new electric car-sharing scheme. Jurong East, Ang Mo Kio and Punggol will be the first towns to see the installation of 50 EV stations and 250 charging points. You’ll be able to book a BlueSG car through an app 20 minutes in advanced and will be charged for the amount of time used instead of the distance travelled.