SINGAPORE - ComfortDelGro, Singapore's largest taxi operator, will temporarily increase its distance fares by one cent from next Monday (April 4).
This is in response to the sharp increase in fuel prices in recent weeks, said the company in a statement on Monday, and follows moves by other point-to-point transport operators to impose temporary fees to help drivers cope with rising costs.
The temporary fare hike also comes less than a month after ComfortDelGro raised its fares on March 1 for the first time in a decade.
Flag-down fares for ComfortDelGro cabs went up by 20 cents, while distance fares went up by two cents.
ComfortDelGro said the one-cent increase will affect distance and waiting time fares for all of its taxis.
Both metered fares and non-metered fares, the latter of which applies to rides booked via ComfortDelGro’s ComfortRide service, will go up correspondingly.
Currently, the distance and waiting time fares are 24 cents for regular ComfortDelGro cabs and 33 cents for its limousine cabs.
This is for every 400m travelled up to 10km, every 350m travelled after 10km, and every 45 seconds or less of waiting time.
These charges will be raised to 25 cents and 34 cents respectively from April 4.
The temporary hike will translate into a fare increase of 32 cents for a 10km taxi ride, said the company, which operates a fleet of about 9,000 cabs here, or about 60 per cent of the taxi population.
Assuming they make 10 to 12 trips a day, ComfortDelGro cabbies can expect to earn between $3.20 and $3.84 more daily.
This will help to defray the additional fuel costs of about $3.55 to $13.50 that cabbies have had to stump up each day in the last month alone, said the firm.
ComfortDelGro added that the temporary hike is being introduced after "strong feedback" from drivers.
It will be reviewed by the end of May and will be removed if fuel prices ease.
To further help cabbies cope with the steep fuel cost increases, ComfortDelGro said it has also extended a one-time rental rebate of $90.
This is over and above the ongoing rental waivers that were put in place to help taxi drivers amid the Covid-19 pandemic, said the company.
Mr Jackson Chia, chief executive of ComfortDelGro Taxi, said in a statement that the decision to introduce the temporary fuel-linked fare hike was taken after careful consideration.
He said: "The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has wrecked havoc on global fuel prices. In the last month alone, the price of petrol has surged by 21 per cent.
"Even though we have been absorbing a large part of the increase in fuel costs so that our drivers can enjoy a lower rate of $2.20 per litre of petrol, compared with the $3.05 per litre if they had pumped outside, they are still paying close to 14 per cent more than what they were paying in February."
He added: "Even with the ongoing rental rebates and the special one-off rental rebate, drivers are still finding it difficult to make ends meet. We hope commuters will understand that this move is a measure of last resort and will be removed once fuel prices return to reasonable levels."
This is the second time ComfortDelGro has had to impose a temporary fuel-linked fare hike.
The previous instance was in July 2008, when it imposed a 30-cent fuel surcharge as Brent crude oil, a major benchmark price for oil purchases worldwide, hit an all-time high of US$147.50 that month.
That fuel surcharge was removed after five months in November 2008, when global fuel prices eased.
Earlier this month, at least three private-hire car operators announced plans to impose temporary driver fees in view of the surging fuel costs.
The largest operator, Grab, will add a 50-cent fee per ride to all its services, except for the Standard Taxi service, from this Friday (April 1) to May 31.
It is also partnering Caltex to provide eligible drivers with an additional one-time fuel discount of up to 51 per cent.
Meanwhile, passengers using local ride-hailing firm Tada between April 4 and May 31 must pay an extra 50 cents for short trips and 80 cents for long ones.
Those using Gojek must pay a 50-cent temporary flat fee on all trips under 10km and 80 cents for longer distances from Thursday.
With market leader ComfortDelGro raising its fares, the other four taxi operators here are likely to follow suit if past hikes are anything to go by.
Mr Yeow How Pheng, head of Strides Mobility Services, which operates Strides Taxi, said the SMRT-owned transportation company is closely monitoring its cabbies’ income to assess how best to help them.
Ms Jasmine Tan, general manager of second largest player Trans-Cab, which has around 2,400 taxis, said her company is in discussion with its drivers over whether to raise fares. To help with the rising costs, the company gave a $90 rental rebate to its cabbies this month.
Mr Neo Nam Heng, chairman of diversified motor group Prime, which operates Prime Taxi, said his company is exploring the idea of imposing a temporary flat fee of 50 cents per trip for about two months, rather than changing distance fares.
“To adjust the meter (charges) is very inconvenient,” he said.