Rise of Ride-Hailing Apps: The Number of Taxis Hits an 8-Year Low

July 19, 201710:23 am651 views

The popularity of ride-hailing services such as Grab and Uber has affected to the population of conventional taxis. According to recent Land Transport Authority statistics, the number of cabs has fallen by more than 10 percent since the arrival of app-based ride-hailing services in 2013.

The figures show that the number of taxis in Singapore hit an eight-year low of 25,699 as at June 30, which represents 10.6 percent drop from its peak in 2014. Since then, the cab population keeps shrinking every year and leaving little or no prospect for improvement in the future, as reported by The New Paper.

To solve this bleak condition, the third largest operator in Singapore, SMRT Corp had initiated a discussion with Grab to dispose of its taxi business. Seeing no prospect in the industry, flocks of taxi drivers are leaving the trade. The Straits Times reports that the percentage of idle or un-hired taxis hit 9.1 per cent in May, almost doubled from last year figure. Before Grab and Uber entered the competition, the un-hired rate for cabs rarely went above 3 per cent.

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Among the taxi drivers who decide to quit this year is Alan Tang, 54. Now changing direction to join security industry, Mr Tang was Comfort taxi driver for about three years before backing down. When he started driving in 2014, he was able to earn around $3,500 a month for a 12-hour shift. However, just before he left, it had fallen to below $3,000.

While Mr Tang saw that driving a taxi comes with several benefits such as freedom and access to a car for personal use, it becomes unworthy when your incomes fall below $3,000. Further, he stated that in his new job, he can make such amount of money easily. Not to mention, he is also given the privilege of having days off, annual leave, dental and medical benefits, as well as Central Provident Fund contributions.

The arrival of private-hire players is blamed to be the source of falling popularity of taxis, along with the inability of taxi industry to respond adequately.

Since 2013, the number of rental cars in Singapore has tripled to 63,259 as at end-June. Of the number, some 50,000 are estimated to be cars practicing as private-hire vehicles. As an attempt to stem the exodus of drivers, cab operators have started cutting rental rates.

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