The modern taxi industry in Singapore began in earnest in the 1970s. The industry grew further in 2003 when the government allowed to have more taxi operators into the market. As the competition grew, the number of taxis grew as well. The number of taxis was 28,000 five years ago. The taxi industry of Singapore faced tough competition when ride-hailing private-hire cars gained popularity in the country.
The Taxi Industry vs the Ride-Hailing Industry
There are seven taxi operators in Singapore, each distinguished by its unique fleet livery. All taxi companies, including SMRT Corporation, CityCab, Comfort, Prime Taxis, Premier Taxis, and TransCab, are private entities but they are accountable to the Land Transport Authority.
SMRT Taxis is one of Singapore’s leading taxi operators. The company has a large fleet of eco-friendly taxis. It is constantly investing in new technology to meet the changing needs of passengers and its taxi partners. Recently, SMRT ordered its first fleet of electric taxis. It is planning to change out its entire taxi fleet to 100% electric taxi within the next five years. SMRT has launched a fourth-generation Toyota Prius equipped with the Advanced Driving Assist System (ADAS) for better safety. SMRT’s The Taxi Share programme allows taxi drivers to rent a taxi on a daily or hourly basis. The company committed rental rebates of up to $23 million to taxi partners during the COVID-19 crisis from February to September 2020. SMRT CEO, Neo Kian Hong, said: “We have helped our taxi and private hire partners and retail property tenants by giving them rental rebates to tide over this difficult period. COVID-19 has brought the Company together and it has served as an impetus to drive change.”
As the taxi population is decreasing, the private ride-hailing industry is booming. The number of private-hire cars now stands at about 77,000. Commuters like the convenience of getting a ride with just a few clicks on their phones.
In October 2020, the government released a new regulatory framework – called the Point-to-Point Passenger Transport Industry Act. The act helps to level the playing field between the taxi industry and private-hire cars. With the introduction of the act, four ride-hail operators gained popularity including ComfortDelGro, Grab, Gojek and Tada.
Amid the growth of the ride-hailing business, taxi companies are venturing into new opportunities. SMRT, the leading taxi operator, partnered with EuroSports to distribute electric motorcycles. SMRT is also working on becoming a sustainable, green business. Trans-Cab, the second largest operator, has started car financing and leasing services. ComfortDelGro launched Zig, a “one-stop lifestyle and mobility app”, to help commuters make dining reservations and purchase attraction tickets as well as book cabs.
“Taxis will continue to be an important and integral part of Singapore’s public transport scene, particularly the need to serve street hail rides,” said SMRT Taxis general manager Shaun Lee.
The needs of commuters in Singapore are changing. Taxis are an important and integral part of Singapore’s public transport while private-hire cars provide the flexibility of commuting from one point to another. Though both taxis and private-hire cars are competing with each other, it seems there will be a mix of taxi and private-hire operations in Singapore for some time in the future.
About the Author
Arthur has been working as a business strategist at a leading company in Singapore. His interest in the transportation industry has helped him find his true passion in writing. In his free time, Arthur loves to travel around Singapore and try new cuisines.