Uber passengers who are tardy in meeting their drivers will now be charged a wait-time fee.
In a pilot which started yesterday, the ride-hailing service will levy a 20-cent-per-minute charge on passengers if their drivers have to wait longer than three minutes at the pick-up location.
The additional fee, to be paid to the driver, will be pro-rated according to when the passenger finally boards the ride. For example, if a passenger arrives 30 seconds after the wait-time charge kicks in, the fee will be 10 cents.
Uber Singapore said on its Facebook page a day before the launch: "Our aim is to give our riders and driver-partners a smooth Uber experience every time. To ensure that our driver-partners get their due for the time spent on the road, we're introducing wait-time charges."
Uber explained on its website that passengers will be sent a notification on their mobile devices when their drivers are reaching the location. It has advised customers to only make a booking when they are near the pick-up location.
The 20-cent-per-minute charge applies to the UberX budget service. This charge is higher for Uber's premium services, such as UberExec, the luxury car option, and UberXL, for larger cars which can seat up to six passengers. For UberExec, the wait-time charge is 45 cents a minute, while for UberXL, it is 35 cents a minute.
Uber also said on its website that the wait-time fees are subject to surge-pricing but did not elaborate.
Uber's rival in Singapore, Grab, imposes a similar charge. The grace period is five minutes, after which a $3 surcharge is applied for every five-minute block.
A Grab spokesman said this was to ensure that its drivers are " fairly compensated for their time".
While Uber and Grab customers said they did not take issue with the penalties, many agreed that drivers should also be charged when they are late.
Ms R. Reetha, 25, a teacher, said: "It doesn't happen often but there are instances when the app indicates a waiting time of five to six minutes, but drivers only arrive 10 to 15 minutes later. Sometimes, passengers are rushing for time as well."
When asked, neither Grab nor Uber would say if it imposed any penalties for drivers who were late.
Private-hire car driver Chase Phang, 40, who runs a support group comprising 300 drivers, said the wait-time fee is welcomed.
Out of 10 passengers,three to four of them will be late, Mr Phang said, based on a group poll. This adds up to close to three hours of waiting time for a driver who does 180 trips a week, he said. "Longer waiting times also mean we complete fewer jobs in an hour and have to stay on the road longer to hit our targets."