Surge pricing will soon be a thing for Singapore taxis

Animosity between traditional taxi services and cab-hailing apps have been a fact of life for a few years now, since the likes of Grab and Uber really gave local cab companies a run for their money. Since they started operating on our shores in 2013, the demand for cabs and cab-like services has doubled, with the general public saying in a survey conducted by the Public Transport Council (PTC) that they’re more satisfied with Uber and Grab in terms of customer service and waiting times. But now, cab companies are hitting back, where it hurts most, implementing their own version of the only thing we dislike about Uber: surge pricing. 

Last week, Singapore’s second largest taxi operator Trans-Cab, which has 4,566 taxis, and Premier Taxi, the second smallest in Singapore with 1,889 taxis, announced that they’ll be rolling out their plans to implement surge pricing soon. Prime, currently the smallest of the competition with only 731 vehicles, might also be joining the other two players. However, these revised fares will only affect anyone who books a cab through Grab. Just days later, ComfortDelGro, which owns about 60 percent of the taxis in Singapore, announced that they too want to play ball. While it’s a fact that taxi fares haven’t been regulated since 1998, the industry still has an unspoken agreement to notify the Public Transport Council of any fare revisions, which is why it took so long for ComfortDelGro to make a decision even though they’ve been wanting to introduce the dynamic pricing system “for some time now,” but wasn’t allowed to.

Is this a great move? For them, definitely. But not so much for us, the commuters, especially for those who naturally default to getting cabs the conventional way when Grab and Uber have ridiculously insane surge pricing (who wants to pay $140 to get home from town, right?). Also, drivers working under Uber and Grab are now required to register for a vocational license, which means that they’ll have a little more cred to their name (yay increased public trust).

The taxi companies have yet to roll out details about their surge pricing plans, but we’re more than keen to see how it’ll work. It probably won’t affect these private car services to the point of having to call it quits in Singapore like Hailo and Karhoo, but we’ll probably be opting for public transporation more often than before. Boo.