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ComfortDelGro taxis available via Uber’s app from Jan 19

SINGAPORE — From next Friday (Jan 19), commuters can book ComfortDelGro taxis via a new option in ride-sharing company Uber’s app, with bookings subject to dynamic pricing that sees higher fares when demand rises.

Commuters can soon book ComfortDelGro taxis via a new option in ride-sharing company Uber’s app, with bookings subject to dynamic pricing that sees higher fares when demand rises. TODAY file photo

Commuters can soon book ComfortDelGro taxis via a new option in ride-sharing company Uber’s app, with bookings subject to dynamic pricing that sees higher fares when demand rises. TODAY file photo

SINGAPORE — From next Friday (Jan 19), commuters can book ComfortDelGro taxis via a new option in ride-sharing company Uber’s app, with bookings subject to dynamic pricing that sees higher fares when demand rises.

In a notice seen on Thursday (Jan 11), ComfortDelGro’s taxis will be available via UberFlash, a new option in the Uber app after both companies announced a tie-up last month.

Under the UberFlash option, both ComfortDelGro taxis and Uber’s private-hire cars will be available for booking, TODAY understands.

ComfortDelGro taxis booked via UberFlash will run on a base fare of S$3, with a rate of 45 cents per kilometre.

In comparison, the flag-down fare for ComfortDelGro taxis ranges between S$3.20 and S$3.90 for the first kilometre travelled, depending on the vehicle. For instance, it is S$3.70 for a Hyundai i40 cab and S$3.90 for a Toyota Prius.

For the subsequent 10km on its Hyundai i40 cab, for instance, it is 22 cents for every 400m travelled. This translates to 55 cents per kilometre.

The notice also stated that a wait-time fee of 20 cents per minute will apply if the vehicle has waited for more than three minutes, as will a cancellation charge of S$6, which will kick in after five minutes.

When contacted, ComfortDelGro spokesperson Tammy Tan would only say that the operator was “excited about our partnership with Uber to improve the overall transportation landscape, giving Singapore more choices to move around at the tap of a button”.

More details will be shared at a press briefing next week.

Uber spokesperson Leigh Wong also declined to provide more details.

The S$642 million Uber-ComfortDelGro tie-up, the single largest deal for public-listed ComfortDelGro, will see the transport operator acquire 51 per cent of Lion City Holdings from Uber. Lion City Holdings is Uber’s car-rental arm in Singapore that runs Lion City Rentals with a fleet of about 14,000 vehicles.

While ComfortDelGro is Singapore’s largest taxi operator with 13,695 Comfort and CityCab taxis on its books, its fleet has shrunk dramatically in the past year amid bruising competition from private-hire car operators.

It lost 2,800 cabs between January and November last year, the latest taxi-population figures from the Land Transport Authority showed.

The agreement, subject to regulatory approval, will “create a path” for ComfortDelGro’s taxi drivers to take on bookings via Uber’s app, the two parties said earlier.

Both Uber and ComfortDelGro stated earlier that the rental-car market is extremely competitive, given the presence of a large number of competitors and the need to ensure that driving remains a “sufficiently attractive” occupation.

On Thursday, Hyundai Motor Company, South Korea’s largest automaker, announced it had invested in Singapore-based rival ride-hailing firm Grab, in a tie-up that will enlarge Hyundai’s mobility services in the region.

In the third quarter of last year, revenue for ComfortDelGro’s taxi business fell 11.2 per cent year-on-year.

Experts had previously told TODAY that as things stand, the deal with Uber appears inadequate to turn ComfortDelGro’s taxi business around.

For instance, Dr Walter Theseira, a transport economist with the Singapore University of Social Sciences, noted that the future of mobility platforms lies in algorithms, data and technology that match travel supply with demand — “not in the business of owning large fleets”.

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