'Passengers happier with Uber, Grab than cabs'

Private-hire services fare better than taxis in customer satisfaction survey

A driver showing the Uber driver's app on his handphone. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Passengers are more satisfied with private-hire car services than taxis, according to a Public Transport Council (PTC) survey.

The poll, conducted in August, found that private-hire services such as Uber and Grab were given a satisfaction mean score of 7.9 out of 10, while taxis received a score of 7.5.

The results, released by PTC yesterday, showed private-hire services fared better than taxis in all comparable categories, such as waiting times, ease of booking, information on services, and ride comfort. Grab and Uber also fared better than taxis in drivers' knowledge of routes, customer service provided by the driver, and safety.

A total of 1,526 passengers, aged 15 years and older, were asked to rate their satisfaction levels on a scale from 1 to 10. A rating of 1 would indicate they were very dissatisfied while a 10 rating would mean they were very satisfied.

Overall satisfaction scores are derived from weighting these attributes, based on the importance respondents gave to each one.

Passengers were most satisfied with safety for both cabs and private-hire cars - although private-hire services scored higher at 8.2, compared with 7.8 for taxis.

The gap between private-hire services and taxis was the widest in terms of their ease of booking - Grab and Uber scored 8.1 versus a rating of 7.2 for taxis.

Assistant Professor Yang Nan, from the National University of Singapore Business School's strategy and policy department, said: "The results show that mobile technologies indeed improve commuting experiences."

As for Uber and Grab outperforming taxis in customer service - 7.6 compared with 7.2 - Prof Yang attributed this to driver ratings systems and ratings-based incentives found in private-hire apps.

PTC chairman Richard Magnus said disruptors have caused an upheaval in the industry. "Taxi firms and taxi drivers have responded by upping their game and raising their service standards. Commuters have benefited from this competition," he wrote in a blog post.

When asked to compare the overall quality of taxi services compared with a year ago, 56 per cent said it has become better, 41per cent said it is the same, while 3 per cent said it is worse now.

About half of all rides taken by respondents over a seven-day period were in private-hire cars, the other half in cabs, the study found. PTC said taxi ridership has fallen from an average daily ridership of 967,000 in 2013 to 954,000 last year.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2017, with the headline 'Passengers happier with Uber, Grab than cabs'. Subscribe