Many turned to cabs and apps to reach home

The taxi queue outside Raffles City shopping mall on July 7.
The taxi queue outside Raffles City shopping mall on July 7. ST PHOTO: PRISCILLA GOY

With two main train lines down and long queues for buses on Tuesday night, many commuters looked for other ways home and turned to taxis and taxi apps such as Uber.

Taxi operators told The Straits Times that they sent alerts to their drivers, to get all available cabs plying the roads.

Trans-Cab general manager Jasmine Tan said the company informed all its drivers at about 7.30pm, shortly after the Land Transport Authority put out an alert that train services on the North-South and East-West lines were disrupted.

"We told our drivers to go to MRT stations to assist passengers there. These passengers needed help. Our call centre faced very high volumes last night," she said.

Commuters also turned to taxi apps such as Uber, which had "thousands of drivers" on the roads, said an Uber spokesman.

UBER-EXPENSIVE

I knew there was surge pricing of five times, but I didn't expect it to be like this. It's crazy - even the Uber driver was shocked.

MS APRIL HOON, who was charged $140 for a ride from Raffles Place to Yishun.

However, Uber, which imposes a surcharge when demand peaks, received some flak yesterday after some commuters were charged as much as five times the normal fare.

Uber passenger April Hoon was charged $140 for a ride from Raffles Place to Yishun.

"I knew there was surge pricing of five times, but I didn't expect it to be like this. It's crazy - even the Uber driver was shocked," said the 27-year-old recruiter.

Uber later tweeted that it had disabled the surge pricing mechanism, prompting many users to write in demanding refunds.

An Uber spokesman said affected users were charged higher fares because they had booked rides before the dynamic pricing system was switched off.

"Our team is working with riders directly to resolve any issues they have," said the spokesman.

Ms Hoon said: "I'm still waiting for a response from them."

However, others were content to simply get a ride home. Financial analyst Dez Tan paid $23, or 11/2 times the regular Uber fare, for a ride from Novena to Nee Soon.

"I was just glad I had a way to get home," said the 29-year-old.

"Even though there were free buses, you couldn't get on, so there was no point.

"As for normal cabs, everyone else was trying to flag one and the phone lines were full."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2015, with the headline 'Many turned to cabs and apps to reach home'. Print Edition | Subscribe