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Fares of private-hire cars surge as more workers return to office, drivers quit

Fares of private-hire cars surge as more workers return to office, drivers quit

SINGAPORE — Taking a private-hire vehicle to work in the mornings from her Bedok home to her Marina Bay office has become increasingly pricey for Ms Chen Huiyi. 

During the pandemic, the trip cost S$14 to S$18, but in the few months since the Covid-19 restrictions were eased, it's roughly doubled to around S$30 or more. 

The 41-year-old, who works in communications, has also noted longer waiting times for her bookings to be confirmed. 

Commuters interviewed by TODAY have echoed Ms Chen's sentiments, with anecdotes of significant jumps in fares for private-hire vehicles in recent months.

Recent sharp petrol price rises may seem like the obvious culprit, but transport industry experts said that the main reason is rising demand for these services as more workers head back to the office.

As ride-hailing firms operate on surge-pricing models, where the fare increases when demand is strong, the higher passenger demand is the key factor driving fares up.

Another factor, the experts added, is that in a tight labour market, some drivers are leaving the industry for better-paying jobs, leaving fewer private-hire cars on the road for the rising number of passengers. Others are driving fewer hours.
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