Last January, we learnt that Singapore’s largest taxi operator ComfortDelGro was set to launch a dynamic pricing (also known as ‘surge pricing’) system for its cabbies from 19 Jan 2018.
This ‘flat fare’ pricing system was offered to consumers through (then not defunct) Uber’s UberFlash option.
UberFlash, as a quick recap, works like how JustGrab does, and dispatches the nearest private car or taxi to a consumer.
Fares for JustGrab are determined by dynamic pricing.
The ComfortDelGro-Uber tie-up with Uber also meant that all 23,000 taxis in Singapore offered dynamic pricing, as the other five taxi firms were already offering the option via the Grab app since the previous year.
In spite of not having a partnership with ComfortDelGro, Grab let ComfortDelGro cabbies opt into the JustGrab system the next month (Feb 2018).
This arrangement came to a halt when the Land Transport Authority (LTA) stepped in and issued a warning to Grab, stating that “taxis should offer metered fares unless their companies had endorsed Grab to offer flat fares on their behalf”.
LTA also added that cabbies who have offered these unendorsed rides are deemed to have “overcharged” consumers.
All ComfortDelGro cabs were then removed from the JustGrab platform, but remained bookable via GrabTaxi, which consumers could use to book cabs.
ComfortDelGro App To Offer Dynamic Pricing
According to a report on The Straits Times, ComfortDelGro is planning to roll out dynamic pricing on its app.
Currently, the app offers a metered and ‘flat fare’ option, the latter of which is determined by the distance travelled and existing surcharges.
ComfortDelGro is also reportedly planning to open its app to private-hire drivers.
These moves are, according to observers, a bid by the firm to “turn the tide” and also gain a new revenue stream from ride-hailing.
Average daily trips by taxis have reportedly shrunk by nearly one-third since Grab entered in Singapore in 2013.
Equities research house Macquarie also “pencilled in an 8 per cent decline for ComfortDelGro’s average taxi fleet” over their forecast period.
Mr Ang Hin Kee, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, shared that some commuters are unhappy with the introduction of surge pricing, but refuted that the “ceiling of how high dynamic fares can rise may be curtailed” with the inclusion of ComfortDelGro’s fleet of 20,000 cabs.
When contacted by The Straits Times, ComfortDelGro spokesperson Tammy Tan just said: “We are always looking at ways to cater to different commuter and driver needs.”