SINGAPORE - Taxi giant ComfortDelGro rolled out a new flat fare option in its booking app on Monday (April 10), in a bid to simplify fares and provide commuters with more certainty on the cost of their rides.
The new offering comes less than a fortnight after five other cab operators launched a dynamic pricing system with fares that vary according to demand called JustGrab on the Grab platform.
ComfortDelGro's flat fare system, however, will not surge with demand, but is based on the distance travelled, with fares computed based on existing surcharges. There are no extra levies, unless the passenger changes the destination or makes additional stops along the way.
Checks by The Straits Times on Monday morning found that flat fares were slightly cheaper than the metered rates.
A trip taken from Jurong East Street 13 to UOB Plaza cost $29 - including Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) tolls - when the booking was made with the flat fare option, but was $31.20 using the meter.
Another trip from Yishun Avenue 5 to the same destination cost a flat fare of $35 - with ERP charges - but was $37.20 on the meter.
"Travel delays due to traffic jams will not result in a higher fare - unlike the metered fare option," ComfortDelGro said last week.
Taxi drivers The Straits Times spoke to welcomed the new fare option. Cabby Mohammad K, 56, said that flat fares will help put taxis on a more level playing field with ride-hailing apps such as Grab and Uber, which already use upfront fares.
Another cabby, Mr P. Gunasagaran, 52, said: "I think flat fares can win over those customers who worry about the meter fares 'jumping' in a traffic jam. There are also many surcharges currently, which commuters find confusing."
But Mr See Y.C., 51, said it remains to be seen if flat fares will work out.
"Certainly, taxi drivers will choose rides with higher fares, while consumers will choose rides with cheaper fares," Mr See added.
Meanwhile, ComfortDelGro, which has a 60 per cent market share, said last week that it was "still exploring" dynamic pricing. The company owns close to 16,500 taxis under its Comfort and CityCab brands.
On March 29, more than 10,600 cabs from operators SMRT, Premier, Prime, Trans-Cab and HDT Singapore Taxi joined private-hire cars in offering dynamic pricing. This is available through the Grab app's JustGrab function.