GrabTaxi, ComfortDelgro flagged as most popular: Straits Times online poll

Taxi driver Wong Hao Min with his mobile app, GrabTaxi, which helps him find passengers and boost his earnings. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Taxi driver Wong Hao Min with his mobile app, GrabTaxi, which helps him find passengers and boost his earnings. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - When it comes to booking and locating cabs, GrabTaxi is the taxi app of choice, according to a Straits Times online poll.

Of the 600 responses, almost half (45 per cent) gave their vote to the Malaysian-based app, which was launched here last October. 

It's the first third-party taxi app to debut in Singapore, two months before Rocket Internet's Easy Taxi. Besides an easy-to-use interface, the app holds frequent promotions to give passengers discounts on their rides, and boasts of nifty features. For example, users can rate drivers and share the status of their rides with friends via Facebook or WhatsApp.

Auditor Brian Lim, 29, first started using GrabTaxi last November when he learnt from a colleague that it waived the booking fee for passengers. "I also like how they're constantly coming up with new ways of improving the app, which is already quite user-friendly," he said. 

GrabTaxi's founders and Harvard Business School graduates Anthony Tan and Tan Hooi Ling said in an April interview with Digital Life that the app has enough drivers using its service to be the "second largest cab fleet" in Singapore after taxi operator ComfortDelgro, which has a fleet of close to 17,000 cabs.  

The company also recently received $327 million in financial backing from a Japanese company.

ComfortDelgro's in-house app garnered about 21 per cent of the votes. Housewife Jacqueline Soh, 54, who uses the ComfortDelgro and GrabTaxi apps, said: "These two apps have the fastest response time compared to other ones I've tried."

US-based Uber (14 per cent) and London-based Hailo (7 per cent) came in third and fourth respectively.

Interestingly, the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) Taxi-Taxi@SG, which does not have a booking feature but is able to broadcast the locations of Singapore's entire fleet of 28,000 cabs, was placed fifth with 6.5 per cent of the votes, even though it was launched only on Wednesday.

Easy Taxi (4 per cent), SMRT Book a Taxi (1.5 per cent) and Transcab (0.67 per cent) rounded out the list.

At least five taxi apps have launched here in the past two years. With more players eyeing for a slice of the market, the LTA announced last month a basic regulatory framework for third-party cab-booking apps to safeguard commuter safety and interests. 

Under the new rules which are expected to come into effect by the second quarter of 2015, companies behind these apps will have to register with the LTA to operate here. Bidding and pre-tipping will not be permitted, and apps must not require users to specify their destinations before booking to prevent taxi drivers from choosing passengers, among other things.

mklee@sph.com.sg