83% Hike in Taxi Fares not Comforting at all

83 per cent.

Yes that’s how much more I calculated it would cost to take a cab from my mother-in-law’s place in Tiong Bahru to my home in Sembawang.

I am shocked by the magnitude of ComfortDelGro’s taxi fare hike this time. It’s one thing to increase the flag down rate and peak period surcharges, but to double the meter hop to 20 cents is plain profiteering.

ComfortDelGro earned almost $2.8 billion last year, with profits of over $300 million. Instead of sharing more of their profits with their drivers, they are upping their fares and trying to justify it by pointing to the plight of their drivers. I have no objection to cabbies earning a little more, but I’ll advise all the “uncles” to make hay while the sun shines. In no time, your rentals are going to also increase and your fuel subsidies reduced or removed.

The government has since 1998 deregulated taxi fares. This means that taxi companies are free to set whatever fares they like without seeking permission from the Public Transport Council. But deregulation only works well if there is fair competition. With 65 per cent of the taxis in Singapore, ComfortDelGro is as good as a monopoly. And it has played out time and again that whenever Comfort raises fares, the rest of the taxi companies follow suit. So much for competition.

The Taxi Operators’ Association, which called Comfort’s revision “fair and timely”, has also urged other taxi operators to adjust their taxi fares “as soon as possible”. I’m no expert in competition law, but doesn’t this smell like cartel behaviour?

The government always points out that taxis are a form of private transport and there are alternatives, like taking a bus or MRT.

Tell that to the pregnant mum who never gets a seat on the train because everyone is “sleeping”.

Tell that to the disabled man who doesn’t have a wheelchair friendly bus plying his route to work.

Tell that to the family who has to transport their sick grandmother to hospital for treatment several times a week.

I have always thought that taking cabs are still cheaper than owning a car. I haven’t done my sums yet, but maybe now it would be cheaper to buy a car to clog up our roads and pollute our air more.

Author: Gerald Giam

Gerald Giam is the Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC. He is a member of the Workers' Party of Singapore. The opinions expressed on this page are his alone.

4 thoughts on “83% Hike in Taxi Fares not Comforting at all”

  1. SP, you hit the nail. Sounds like the ‘increase GST to help the poor’ strategy/excuse is being applied to help the “poor” taxi drivers now. Got problem raised by the public? How to solve it? Penalise the public.

    Talk about total lack of innovation in problem solving and more importantly, losing sight of what’s really happening on the ground.

  2. “but to double the meter hop to 20 cents is plain profiteering.”

    just to clarify, Below is a comparison of the old scheme and the revised one.

    $0.10 for every 210m or less (Old)
    $0.20 for every 385m or less (Revised)

    So you see, formerly we play 20 cents for 420m or less.
    now we pay the same amount for a lesser distance (385m).

    Just want to clarify that it is not a flat-out 2 fold increase.

  3. If what yonanz says is correct then the difference can be better seen in these laymans terms:

    Each km
    – used to cost 48c
    – now it costs 52c

    OR

    $1
    – used to get you 2.1km
    – now it gets you 1.925km

  4. yonaz – Thanks for pointing that out. I stand corrected. I based my blog post on the TODAY report (Dec 11), which simply reported, “Every subsequent distance/time step: 20 cents (Currently: 10 cents)”.

    So thankfully I think the fare increase for me may not hit 83%, but I’m sure it won’t be just a 10% increase, like Comfort assured us.

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