Time for ComfortDelGro to up its game

The ComfortDelGro building along Braddell Road.
The ComfortDelGro building along Braddell Road.PHOTO: ST FILE

When Uber entered the Singapore market in 2013, it changed the face of taxi services.

Singaporeans were suddenly able to find rides with an ease previously unheard of.

ComfortDelGro, the largest taxi operator here, would have been expected to take serious steps to counter the threat from ride-hailing companies.

Instead, six years on, it has allowed its taxi revenues to slide without a solution in sight.

Its weak attempt to purchase Uber's private-hire business when it exited South-east Asia last year was usurped by Grab, which has emerged as the main player, with Gojek following closely behind.

In South-east Asia, Grab has grand ambitions: to provide safe and convenient ride-hailing services in the region.

Today, we read about ComfortDelGro's attempt to invest in transport-linked start-ups (ComfortDelGro investing in transport-linked tech start-ups, June 5).

Instead of transforming its business model with its own ride-hailing app that would link all of its worldwide traditional taxi businesses and, eventually, its bus business, the company has shown a lack of ambition and leadership in the face of disruption.

Still massively profitable from its monopoly over the local rail and bus services, this is one local company that has the resources to help take Singapore's internationalisation drive to the next level.

But it is perhaps lacking the business motivation, given its privileged position in the local land transport market.

Liu Fook Thim

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 11, 2019, with the headline 'Time for ComfortDelGro to up its game'. Print Edition | Subscribe