Singapore taxi fleet size at its lowest in over 10 years

The taxi fleet in Singapore stood at 23,140 as of Dec 31, 2017, according to statistics from the Land Transport Authority, down 19 per cent from its peak in 2014.
The taxi fleet in Singapore stood at 23,140 as of Dec 31, 2017, according to statistics from the Land Transport Authority, down 19 per cent from its peak in 2014. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore's taxi fleet has shrunk to its smallest size in more than a decade, with numbers of the blue Comfort-branded cabs tumbling below 10,000 for the first time since 2005.

According to latest Land Transport Authority statistics, the taxi fleet stood at 23,140 as of Dec 31, 2017 - 19 per cent down from its 2014 peak of 28,736.

Market leader ComfortDelGro's fleet tumbled to 13,244 - 22 per cent down from its December 2015 fleet size. Its Comfort-branded cab numbers stood at 9,825, while its CityCab taxis numbered 3,419.

In contrast, the chauffeured private-hire car population stood at 46,903 - more than double the taxi numbers - at the end of last year, according to the LTA.

Uber, along with its Asian rival Grab, arrived in Singapore in 2013.

Flush with billions in investors' funds, they have been growing the taxi-like service aggressively. Most of the cars are owned by car rental firms or motor companies, but some 14,000 of these are estimated to be owned by Lion City Rentals, which is in turn owned by American ride-hailing firm Uber.

Mr Ang Hin Kee, executive adviser to the National Taxi Association as well as the National Private Hire Vehicles Association, said: "With the alliance of private-hire companies and traditional taxi operators in the works, these operators are more a ride service vehicle hiring operation rather than a typical taxi rental operation we are familiar with."

The labour MP, however, said he is concerned about the ballooning fleet size. "I think our market will need only an optimal number of vehicles."

He said that with "too many drivers chasing after a finite number of commuters, it is unsustainable", adding that the earnings of drivers will eventually be affected.

Meanwhile, the Competition Commission of Singapore, in response to queries from The Straits Times, said it will complete the first phase of its review of the proposed Comfort-Uber alliance by Feb 19.

If there are concerns, the commission will go into a second phase of deliberations, which will be more extensive.