Singapore has a bit of an issue. As Singaporeans, we are constantly encouraged to reduce the use of private vehicles and to buy fewer cars. Yet the only measures to entice us to stop buying cars are COEs and high taxes. We always slap on more penalties for car ownership. What happen to the “carrot-and-stick” approach?
Yes, we get it. The high cost reduces the demand for owning a car, but it does not reduce the need for it. Adjusting the cost of private transport also does not improve the efficiency of our daily commute. Singaporeans are simply encouraged to carpool with our peers or take the public transport instead.
Before Uber and GrabTaxi appeared, nothing much was done to facilitate the process of linking up Singaporeans who own a car with Singaporeans who might be looking for transport to the same location. With these two apps, car owners heading to a certain destination can pick up someone who shares a similar destination on the way and are incentivized by monetary returns. Passengers might also be paying a lower fee than flagging for a taxi along the way (assuming they can find one) which creates a win-win situation for both car owners and Singaporeans in need of a lift.
Effective Exchange of Information
The lack of flow of information between Taxi drivers and passengers prior boarding the Taxi might have caused displeasure at some point or another.
What Uber and GrabTaxi have done is to allow a smoother flow of information where the Taxi driver can obtain information of where the passenger wants to head to before deciding to pick them up. This not only removes the problems such as drivers picking up passengers to destinations they are less willing to go to. Drivers can also eliminate with the need to queue at the Taxi stand for a long duration. Passengers are also provided with information regarding the driver’s car and other relevant details prior to the pickup.
If you stayed in Pasir Ris, you would have known the feeling of disappointing a taxi driver that have spent a long time queuing up, only to pick up a passenger that is only travelling a short-distance. These are passengers that most taxi driver would prefer avoiding. The great thing about Uber and Grab Taxi is that it allows you to hop on a car with a driver who is happy to pick you up, rather than have to deal with an awkward 10 minutes ride from the airport to Pasir Ris.
Some taxi drivers will complain about these apps. But it is hard to empathise with them when you know they are not even that keen to pick you up to begin with.
Ease of payment
“Uncle, do you accept Nets?”
That was the question we used to ask before boarding a taxi when we do not have cash with us. We have experiences whereby the Nets machine on the Taxi failed to function or the Taxi driver simply refused to accept Nets payment and we had no choice but to detour to a nearby ATM machine. The cost of this extra inconvenience and fare from the detour is ultimately charged to the consumer of course.
Apps like Uber and GrabTaxi reduce this worry for passengers since they have the option to choose the mode of payment beforehand, which is more reliable and consistent than what the Taxi companies offer.
With Uber and GrabTaxi at the forefront of direct transport, we are now seeing the gaps in Singapore’s transportation being addressed.
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