According to The Straits Times, Trans-Cab and Premier Taxi have informed the Public Transport Council (PTC) of their plans to implement dynamic fares, also commonly known as surge-pricing.
Both operators are awaiting PTC’s response. Taxi fares are not regulated but operators need to alert the PTC of any changes in prices before rolling them out.
According to ST, the surge-pricing for taxis will only occur if passengers hail a taxi using the Grab app.
ComfortDelGro, which has more than 60 percent of taxis in Singapore, has not made a move to introduce surge-pricing, its CEO told ST two weeks ago — even though ComfortDelGro “would love” to do so but thought they were not allowed to.
Meanwhile, a PTC spokesperson told ST that “PTC and Land Transport Authority will jointly review the applications” by Trans-Cab and Premier Taxi.
Unhired taxis on the rise
According to ST, the number of unhired taxis parked idle have increased from 1,190 in 2015, to 1,620 in 2016.
The total number of taxis in Singapore also shrank from 28,300 in 2015 to 27,500 this year.
Meanwhile according to figures by LTA, the number of rental vehicles in Singapore has tripled to 50,000 since 2013 — the year Uber and Grab gained prominence in Singapore.
Will surge-pricing work for taxi companies?
Would the introduction of surge-pricing entice more people to start driving taxis? A quick check online shows that a rental of a Toyota Prius taxi from SMRT starts from S$116 per day, whilst the cost of the same model from Lion City Rental is S$80 nett per day.
Many private hire drivers rent their cars from Lion City Rental.
Not to mention there are several regulatory requirements that come with being a taxi driver — though the Government has said that it would either ease some of the requirements (like scrapping minimum mileage per day for taxis) or introduce regulations on private hire drivers to level the playing field.
On the flip side, would passengers who have grown accustomed to cheaper fares offered by private hire drivers switch to taking taxis that may come with surge-pricing?
Perhaps the reaction of netizens to this news could be an indication:
Top image by Jnzl