Uber – Does It Deliver the Taxi Service Revolution It Promises?


Owning and maintaining a vehicle in Singapore is not just a casual choice of expenditure the average citizen can afford to make. In fact, even cab fares can sometimes be a pain to deal with financially when one has to contend with the living costs in one of the most expensive cities in the world. However, Singapore still maintains one of the most active taxi riderships in the world with over one million daily riders, and possesses a mighty impressive taxi to person ratio.

So how does a budding new taxi service start-up that emerged only a couple of years ago expect to make foray into the already saturated Singaporean taxi service market?

What Is Uber?

Gather around, Singaporeans! I believe it’s time we have a little talk about an enterprising new service known as Uber – a San Francisco-based tech startup that blends mobile technology, car transportation, and logistics onto one seamless platform. The question is whether Uber as promising as its name.

Let’s just say consolidating a network across more than 100 cities around the world and millions of trips completed within a span of 3-4 years would surely get you invited to a fair share of VC tea parties eager to pump millions of dollars into your business.

Early 2013 marked Uber’s mid-tier UberExec service launch in Singapore, which was further accentuated by the lower-tier UberX program earlier this year. The premise of both services is exactly the same – use an app to connect passengers with drivers of vehicles for hire.

Understanding Its Features & Potential

Although taxis are abundantly present throughout the city, Singaporean commuters still encounter adversity when it comes to hailing a cab during peak hours or poor weather conditions. This is where Uber can perfectly fill in the gap by giving users the option to book a car at the touch of a button on their smartphones wherever they go. It offers an unhindered, migraine-free premium transport service tailored to your schedule.

While the UberExec service is a great cost-efficient transport management solution for getting business executives from point A to point B without compromising on class or luxury. The fleet of cars available under this scheme includes the BMW S-series, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, and the Toyota Alphard.

On the other hand, the UberX service is even more affordable and can save you over 20% of the fare you pay for booked taxi trips irrespective of whether you travel during peak hours or not. It’s just like travelling in the economy class version of UberExec except you won’t feel much of a downgrade in comfort with car models such as Mitsubishi Lancer, Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sunny and Hyundai Sonata in its fleet.

To get started, all you need to do is download the Uber app on your iPhone or Android smartphone and book it for the right time and location. The taxi fares for your planned UberX ride can be calculated beforehand by simply leveraging the fare-estimate tool in the app.

Uber Pricing Table

Scheme UberX UberExec Uber Taxi
Base Fare Peak – $3.50Off Peak – $3.50 $7.00 Uber can be used to avail special discounts that allow you to pay 25% less than standard taxi meter fares.
Fare per minute Peak – $0.50Off Peak – $0.40 $0.45
Fare per kilometer Peak – $0.30Off Peak – $0.24 $1.95

UberX’s pricing structure is in hot competition with the rates offered by local taxi companies ComfortDelGro and SMRT. While ComfortDelGro’s Hyundai Sonata and Hyundai i-40 taxis charge a base fare amounting to $3.20 and $3.70 respectively, SMRT’s Chevrolet Epica and Toyota Prius taxis charge a base fare of $3.60 and $3.80 respectively. For every 400m travelled thereafter, both companies abide by a rate hovering around 22 cents/400m.

Safety & Compliance Standards

UberX drivers are not compelled to possess taxi driver licenses and can independently sign up to be drivers by registering their own personal cars, or rental car as part of their official fleet. After a thorough verification of their driving credentials and a criminal background check, drivers are allowed to move on to the next stage.

However, only Singapore citizens and permanent residents are allowed to be hired by Uber and must have completed commercial registration of their vehicles along with holding a valid commercial auto insurance policy.

Overall, Uber’s making some steady strides in the taxi service industry despite stiff opposition from local taxi businesses and really looks set to achieve their objective of evolving the way the world moves.

What do you think?