SINGAPORE - The surcharge for taxi trips starting from Changi Airport will be raised by $3 from next Thursday (May 19) until June 30, in a move to increase the supply of cabs for passengers there.
With the increased surcharge, trips starting from Changi will cost an additional $8 every day from 5pm to 11.59pm, and an additional $6 at all other times.
The current surcharge is $5 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 5pm to 11.59pm, and $3 at all other times.
The move, announced by Changi Airport Group (CAG) in a Facebook post on Thursday (May 12), comes amid a reluctance from cabbies to go to the airport to pick up passengers despite a revival in international air travel.
According to a Facebook post by ComfortDelGro Taxi, the largest taxi operator in Singapore, the increased surcharges will also apply to trips starting from Changi Air Freight Centre, the Airport Police Station and the Airport Logistics Park of Singapore.
The surcharge hike will kick in from midnight on May 19 and end at 11.59pm on June 30.
In March, about 1.14 million travellers passed through Changi, the first time passenger volumes there crossed the one million mark since the Covid-19 pandemic began more than two years ago.
Passenger traffic at Changi Airport more than doubled last month from March, approaching 40 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.
This takes Singapore to touching distance of achieving its target to restore passenger volumes at the airport to at least 50 per cent of pre-Covid-19 levels by the end of the year.
The higher number of passengers, coupled with a lower supply of taxis, has led to long queues of people waiting for cabs at the airport.
In a report by The Straits Times earlier this month, taxi drivers had said that more money could be made in the Central Business District and at night.
Coupled with high fuel costs, they told ST that they found no reason to go all the way to the airport, where they risk long periods of waiting with engines switched on.
CAG had launched an incentive programme last month to get taxis back to the airport, offering cabbies a reward of $10 for each day they made a minimum of three trips to the airport in three time windows: 6am to 10am, noon to 1pm and 4pm to 7pm. It also gave out free coffee to drivers in the morning; but the measures were inadequate.
In response to queries, a CAG spokesman said the five taxi companies here had discussed the taxi shortage at the airport with CAG before the firms lodged plans to revise the location surcharge with the Public Transport Council (PTC).
CAG said that its own incentive programme, which was originally slated to end on April 30, will also run until May 16.
From May 17 to June 30, there will be a new scheme, in which cabbies can earn the $10 reward if they make a minimum of three trips to the airport from 6am to 9am and from 3pm to 9pm.
A PTC spokesman said the council had been informed of the taxi operators’ intention to raise the taxi location surcharge and reminded them to apprise commuters about the new fares.
It did not say when the plans to raise the surcharges were lodged.
Under a regulatory framework that took effect in October 2020, taxi operators here are required to lodge plans to change their fares at least 28 days before making the changes.
They also need to publicise the changes at least seven days beforehand.
Ms Yeo Wan Ling, adviser to the National Taxi Association (NTA), said tourist spending has traditionally been an important component of cabby earnings.
But with the new norm, drivers are still getting used to new flight timings and airport terminal arrangements, she said.
Beyond increasing the location surcharge, Ms Yeo said CAG, the taxi companies and the NTA have also coordinated to inform cabbies about flight timings in real time to ensure wait times are balanced between drivers and passengers.
The MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC added: “Our drivers understand the important role that taxis play as transportation providers to and from the airport, and remain committed to providing safe and efficient rides for departing and arriving passengers.”
When ST visited the airport on Thursday afternoon, it was a mixed picture.
The wait at the taxi stand at Terminal 1 was about 10 minutes at about 4pm, but at about 4.40pm, there were quite a number of cabs lined up and passengers were able to board them almost immediately.
It was the reverse at Terminal 3, where more than five taxis were waiting for passengers at about 5.30pm, but by about 5.50pm, there were no taxis.
Mr Rutger Everest, 50, who arrived from Kuwait on Thursday, said he was not surprised by the surcharge hike and does not mind paying it.
Considering soaring fuel prices, he said, it is reasonable as long as the surcharge is re-adjusted once there are more taxis at the airport.
“These guys have to eat too,” added the product manager, who was here on business.
Mr Philip Rae, 67, however, feels paying $8 as a surcharge would be too much. The retired engineer from Scotland said he would prefer to take public transport or use ride-hailing apps instead.
For ComfortDelGro cabby Robert Yeo, the plan to raise the surcharge for trips from Changi Airport is not enough to entice him to make the journey east.
The 62-year-old said he would not go to the airport unless he has to, as the surcharge hike cannot cover the cost of petrol. “If I drive an empty car there, it is not worth it. Only if I’m already taking someone there, then I’ll go,” he added.