Drivers and users hanging on to Uber app

Ride-hailing firm Uber may have made it clear that it intends to leave Singapore after rival Grab acquired it on March 26, but commuters and drivers are still hanging on to the app even as it heads for its last lap.

After this weekend, Uber will be under no obligation to extend its app, said the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore.

Many commuters said they are still using both ride-hailing apps, Grab and Uber, to compare prices.

"I have always used both Grab and Uber, so that I can compare prices and use whichever offers me a cheaper ride," said Mr Cho Jun Wen, a 27-year-old Singapore Armed Forces regular.

Student Carina Yap, 19, said: "Uber is usually cheaper... it has a minimum fare of only $3 or $4. That is why I am using it until it closes."

Drivers also said that they will continue to use Uber as long as they can, with many using both apps since before the acquisition.

"I have used both Uber and Grab in the past. It is to pay the bills, and loyalty is not a concern," said Mr Mohammed Firdaus, 36, a private-hire driver.

 

Drivers have differing views on whether their takings and bookings collectively on both apps have changed since the acquisition.

Commuters, however, have noticed that there are fewer promotional codes available for their rides.

Ms Faye Leong, a 26-year-old electrical engineering researcher, summed up what most commuters were experiencing: "It is not that the number of promo codes has decreased. There are no promo codes at all."

Professor Ng Yew Kwang from Nanyang Technological University's economics department, when asked if this was the new normal - fewer discounts resulting in costlier rides - said: "It depends on the ability of new entrants to the market, like Ryde and Go-Jek, to establish themselves and gain market share fast. Only with increased competition will the promo codes increase again."

He added: "Currently, it is too early to make any judgments."

When asked whether Grab was giving out fewer promotional codes, a spokesman would say only that the company provides an array of "value-add" promotions for its users, such as the GrabRewards loyalty programme.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2018, with the headline 'Drivers and users hanging on to Uber app'. Print Edition | Subscribe