SINGAPORE: With the authorities’ approval of dynamic fares for taxis, ride-hailing platform Grab has announced that it will launch a new service offering this pricing model soon.
The new service will set fixed fares for taxi bookings that are also subject to surge pricing - which means that fares may vary depending on demand. The total fare will be displayed upfront before the customer books a taxi.
The prices will account for travel time, distance, booking fees, and the real-time demand and supply of taxis, Grab said in a joint press release with SMRT on Friday (Mar 17).
According to a video Channel NewsAsia understands will be used for taxi drivers’ training, the service will be called JustGrab. Passengers may be picked up by either a car or a taxi - the job will be assigned to the driver nearest to the passenger’s location. If it is a taxi, the vehicle’s meter will show the fixed fare as determined at the time of booking.
JustGrab will impose a S$3 charge for each additional five-minute wait and S$5 for each additional drop-off point, similar to the fees charged by its private-hire car service GrabCar.
GrabTaxi Singapore head Melvin Vu said the company has engaged authorities since December on implementing surge pricing for taxis and is "glad" they have been given the green light.
Mr Vu said that compared to the current taxi fare model, which does not account for real-time passenger demand and driver supply, the dynamic fares ensure "taxis are better utilised throughout the day and passengers enjoy more affordable rides based on real-time market demands".
Channel NewsAsia understands that Grab has begun training taxi drivers from Trans-cab, SMRT and HDT for the JustGrab service.
EXCLUSIVE BOOKING PLATFORM FOR ALL TAXI OPERATORS BUT ONE
On Friday, Grab also announced its partnership with SMRT - its fifth tie-up with a local taxi company - making it the exclusive third-party booking platform for all taxi companies in Singapore except the largest operator, ComfortDelGro.
Second-largest taxi operator Trans-cab was the first to partner Grab in September last year, followed by Premier and Prime Taxis about a month later. It also launched an exclusive partnership with electric-taxi company HDT last month.
SMRT's fleet of more than 3,500 taxis expands Grab’s network of drivers to more than 100,000 across its GrabTaxi, GrabCar and GrabHitch services.
In their joint news release, Grab and SMRT Taxis said metered fares will continue to apply for commuters who take the taxis from cab stands or book them via phone or GrabTaxi.
As part of the deal, SMRT taxi drivers who are new to the Grab app will be "incentivised to use Grab’s booking platform to complement their street-hail pickups".
The taxi operator's drivers will undergo training to familiarise them with the Grab app and learn about the platform's safety guidelines and expected code of conduct, the companies added.
SMRT Taxis and Private Hire Services managing director Tony Heng said more customers are open to having dynamic fares for taxi rides as the market has "evolved and matured significantly".
The partnership with Grab allows the taxi company to keep its prices competitive and cater to different customer needs and preferences, he added.