Are errant taxi drivers to blame for third-party taxi app providers' woes?

Charlene  |  Singapore
Published 2015-01-08 11:44:35

Users of third-party apps like Easy Taxi, Hailo Singapore and GrabTaxi: you might be aware that taxi drivers are offered incentives to accept your requests for cabs via these apps. Such incentives include monetary payouts depending on the number of rides accepted, and Uber Singapore’s free rides for commuters (which taxi drivers can then claim from the company).

But it seems that providers of these apps are at the losing end of these deals when it comes to a number of errant taxi drivers.

As Channel NewsAsia reported, Easy Taxi has alerted four drivers to the authorities for making false claims about the rides they accepted. Meanwhile, GrabTaxi and Hailo Singapore have not commented on the frequency of such incidents, though they acknowledged the presence of such behaviour.

Image Credit: Strait Times
Image Credit: Strait Times

There are various ways in which false claims have been made: some get their friends or family members to make fake bookings, others make bookings through different phone lines, and yet others claim inflated payments for free rides which cost less.

These incidents occur repeatedly even with measures put in place by app providers. Managing director of Easy Taxi Singapore, Mr Li Jianggan, said that the company’s system can detect ‘abnormal’ rides via ride histories that they receive. Such rides include those which are unusually short or which have been received through particular phone numbers. Other providers use GPS to track distances travelled and routes taken by their drivers.

Commuters can rest easy, though, as such behaviour will not have much of an impact on taxi supply since they are isolated cases. Transport researchers like Dr Alexander Erath, from the Singapore-ETH Centre for Global Environmental Sustainability, however, cautions that it is up to app providers to design better incentive strategies to avoid future incidents.

This isn’t an unexpected situation – as long as there is money involved, a handful of those involved will always attempt to ‘cheat’ their way. We can expect popular taxi booking apps like Easy Taxi and Grabtaxi to implement security measures to safeguard themselves in the near future. After all, it’s their pockets at stake.

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