Singapore

ComfortDelGro announces flat fare option for taxi bookings

ComfortDelGro rolling out new pricing option on cab-hailing phone app

Just days after Grab launched dynamic pricing for taxis and taxi-like services, ComfortDelGro announced details of a flat fare option it was rolling out on its own cab-hailing app.

Singapore's largest taxi operator said it will offer the option from Monday for taxi bookings made through its phone app.

The option will be made available alongside the traditional metered fare on Comfort and CityCab taxis.

The flat fare option computes fares and flashes this ahead of a trip, taking into account the distance to be travelled and all existing surcharges, including the booking fee.

"Once a flat fare is chosen, there will be no additional surcharges unless the passenger changes the destination point or makes unplanned stops along the way," ComfortDelgro's spokesman said.

A $5 charge for every additional stop enroute and a $5 charge for a change to a further destination (for every 5km additional travelled) are applicable.

Electronic Road Pricing charges will also be applicable.

But travel delays arising from traffic jams will not result in a higher fare, unlike the metered fare option.

ComfortDelGro said its drivers will be encouraged to take on flat fare bookings through a waiver of the call levy.

The company declined to say how much this levy is, but cabbies said it is 40 cents per call.

FLUCTUATE

It also said it is still exploring dynamic pricing, which allows fares to fluctuate with demand.

Experts said the transport giant is treading cautiously with dynamic pricing given that cabbies from operators that have embraced it were not thrilled that their fares were lowered.

National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng said: "Dynamic pricing was first introduced by Uber. It became an attractive feature in the US simply because taxis were scarce..."

Dr Lee said Uber was focusing on meeting the demand of "specific passenger groups" who are able and willing to pay more, "rather than mass market passengers". But in Singapore, he said, taxi services are seen to be accessible to the masses.

Dr Lee said he expects ComfortDelGro's flat rate to be generally lower than dynamic fares.

"The attractiveness of flat rate is intuitive. Since the taxi fare is known to the passenger at the time of booking, it remains as the passenger's choice of taking or not taking."

National Taxi Association executive adviser Ang Hin Kee said Comfort's move should go down well.

"For commuters, it takes away uncertainty of the final cost of a ride," he noted."For cabbies, they get an additional platform to access commuters."

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