Uber-ComfortDelGro new service UberFlash launched

This article is more than 12 months old

New service promises faster rides with UberX private-hire car or Comfort taxi

A month after ride-hailing firm Uber and taxi operator ComfortDelGro announced their alliance, their new service UberFlash will be available from today.

The service, available on the Uber app, promises faster rides by matching commuters with the nearest UberX private-hire car or ComfortDelGro taxi.

ComfortDelGro, the largest taxi operator here, has 13,695 taxis under the Comfort and CityCab brands, while Uber has about 14,000 vehicles under its rental arm, Lion City Rentals.

Fares for the service will be based on dynamic pricing, where prices rise during periods of high demand. The firms said fares will be an average of 5 per cent to 10 per cent cheaper than an equivalent UberX ride.

The introduction of UberFlash comes 10 months after Uber's rival Grab introduced JustGrab, a similar service, in partnership with the other five taxi firms here.

Uber's Asia-Pacific chief business officer Brooks Entwistle denied the tie-up was in response to Grab's initiative, saying it was in line with Uber's "global strategy of partnering with world-class institutions".

He added that he viewed the collaboration with ComfortDelGro as a long-term one.

"We see the partnership going five or 10 years, or beyond," he said, noting that Uber had also partnered taxi companies in countries such as Taiwan and Malaysia.

The partnership between Uber and ComfortDelGro - which includes ComfortDelGro acquiring a 51 per cent stake in Uber-owned Lion City Holdings, valued at about $642 million - is still being reviewed by the Competition Commission of Singapore.

But Uber Singapore general manager Warren Tseng said the firms were given "special permission" to proceed with the launch of UberFlash.

ComfortDelGro taxis chief executive Ang Wei Neng said UberFlash is the first in a series of collaborations between the two firms.

He declined to comment on how many had signed up for UberFlash, but Mr Tseng said the service had generated a "tremendous amount of interest" among cabbies.

As part of the agreement between the two firms, Uber will take a 10 per cent cut of the fare from ComfortDelGro cabbies from each UberFlash booking, he said.

The commission of each ride from Uber's private-hire drivers is 20 per cent of each fare.

National Taxi Association executive adviser Ang Hin Kee said Uber's driver incentives - which reward drivers based on the number of trips they clock - could help supplement their income.

One cabby who has signed up for the service, Mr Stannley Chiok, 43, a Comfort taxi driver for six years, said he is hopeful he will be able to get more passengers.

"It is better than driving on the empty road, searching for passengers," he said.