Travelling in style is set to hit taxi commuters in the pocket after a round of sharp limo fare increases.
A third taxi operator will raise its price structure for Mercedes-Benz cabs next week, in line with two others that have done so since May.
With rides now costing around 30 per cent more than two months ago, some passengers are threatening to shun the limo services for cheaper options.
From next Wednesday, Premier Taxi - recognised by its silver cabs - will raise the flagdown rate of its Mercs from $3.90 to $4.50, while its distance and time rate will rise from 22 to 30 cents for every 400m and 45 seconds of waiting time.
Managing director Lim Chong Boo said the fare revision has been triggered by factors such as spiralling COE and maintenance costs and the tiered taxation scheme for luxury cars announced in February.
Market leader ComfortDelGro was first to up the flagdown rate of its Merc cabs in mid-May, from $3.20 to $3.90. Its distance and time charges also went up from 22 to 30 cents. Spokesman Tammy Tan said this was to "better align our limo cab (fare)" with market rates.
Last month, Trans-Cab, the second-largest player, raised charges for its Merc cabs to 30 cents for every 400m/45 seconds, up from 22 cents. Its flagdown remained at $3.90. Chief executive Teo Kiang Ang blamed rising maintenance costs for Mercedes cabs.
SMRT has so far held its rates, while Smart is in the midst of selling its operations. Prime, the smallest player, does not have Mercedes-Benz taxis.
Commuters are not thrilled.
Retiree Peter Chong, 62, said: "I will take the normal cab, not the business-class Mercedes cab. Seeing how high car prices are here, we should regulate taxi fares."
Freelance writer Richard Seah, 57, said he will avoid premium taxis "unless I really have no choice".
"Recently, I took a Chrysler cab because I had been waiting for more than half an hour and it felt no more comfortable than the normal cabs."
Marketing professional Lau Sau Kuen, in her 30s, said she avoids Mercedes cabs. "My concern is whether the other cabs will also increase fares, which are already quite high."
The move is not exactly popular with taxi-drivers, either.Cabby Joseph Ho, 53, said most rental rates have risen from the $130 to $140 range to between $170 and $180.
"Most of what we collect in higher fares actually goes to the cab company," he said.