Tech-averse cabbies will lose out in digital economy

A Comfort Delgro taxi picking up passengers at a taxi stand.
A Comfort Delgro taxi picking up passengers at a taxi stand.PHOTO: CMG

Manpower Minister Josephine Teo has given timely advice to cabbies, especially those who are averse to e-payments and ride-hailing operations (Call to taxi firms and drivers to embrace change, July 30).

ComfortDelGro Taxi should train its older cabbies to help them keep up with technological changes.

Remember when taxis were hard to come by between 11pm and midnight? Today, cabbies compete with ride-hailing companies for customers no matter the time of day.

For the past two years, I have counted on Grab for my journeys.

I need not worry about traffic jams and the odd hours of the night as I can get a Grab taxi 24/7; there is no need to book ahead - the waiting time for a Grab cab is not more than five minutes.

My experiences in Malaysia have convinced me that Grab provides better service than regular taxis.

A regular taxi journey from the Customs checkpoint to Sogo in Mid Valley Southkey mall costs RM20 (S$6.60). A Grab ride costs only RM8.

The waiting time for a Grab cab is under five minutes. The driver is usually a man in his 20s and the car is new. There is no need to haggle over the fare, unlike with regular taxi drivers, some of whom go by the meter, and others charge a flat rate.

Meanwhile, ComfortDelGro should install meters that can read mobile e-wallets, so passengers need not reach for their wallets at the end of a ride, but simply wave their phone or smartwatch at the meter.

Heng Cho Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2019, with the headline 'Tech-averse cabbies will lose out in digital economy'. Print Edition | Subscribe