Your chances of hopping into a cab with a flagdown fare of $3.20 - the lowest here currently - have just got a little lower.
Premier, the fourth biggest cab operator here, has bumped up the base fare for three of its taxi models - by 40 cents to $3.60.
This took effect on Monday and applied to Premier's Kia Magentis, Toyota Wish and Hyundai i30 cabs, or some 400 taxis in all. They account for about 20 per cent of its total fleet of over 1,900 cabs.
It means ComfortDelGro, which runs the Comfort and CityCab fleets, now has the cheapest taxis. Its Hyundai Sonata models are the only ones with the $3.20 flagdown rate now, according to its website. About two-thirds of its 17,000 taxis are Sonatas. For the other three cab firms - Prime, SMRT and TransCab - the lowest flagdown rate among their fleets is $3.60.
Yesterday, a Premier spokesman told The Straits Times: "The revision is to be in line with the sentiment of simplifying taxi fare structure for the commuting public, as encouraged by the authorities." He said it will not raise rental rates for its taxi hirers.
Beside the Magentis, Wish and i30, Premier has two other types of cabs under its regular taxi fleet - the Toyota Prius and Kia Optima - which charge a $3.90 flagdown rate, for the first kilometre or less.
Premier managing director Lim Choong Boo was quoted as saying in a media report that in the next one to two years, it will progressively replace its Magnetis and Wish cabs with Optimas, and most of its taxis will have a $3.90 base rate.
While taxi fares here have been deregulated since 1998, firms are expected to notify the Public Transport Council (PTC) before any revision. The PTC said it was informed by Premier on Jan 14, and it is the only cab firm to notify the council of any fare changes so far this year.
Under amendments to the PTC Act, parts of the taxi fare structure, such as unit rates and surcharges, are now standardised to reduce confusion. As harmonising flagdown rates may lead to higher charges, firms are still free to decide on them.