SINGAPORE: Uber Singapore on Thursday (Jan 18) officially announced it will be bringing surge pricing to all ComfortDelGro taxis here through a new service called UberFLASH.
In a press release, the ride-hailing company said commuters will be able to see UberFLASH trip fares before they request a ride, and fares will be lower by 5-10 per cent on average compared to an uberX ride.
From 6am on Friday, commuters can book rides using the UberFLASH feature. The base fare starts at S$3 while distance fare per kilometre is S$0.45 and time fare per minute is at S$0.20. Other charges such as wait time fee of $0.20 per minute after three minutes and cancellation fee of S$6 after five minutes, similar to Uber's other offerings, would apply too, it added.
By comparison, the metered fare option offered by ComfortDelGro currently states that the flag-down fare for its taxis ranges from S$3.20 for Hyundai Sonata to S$3.90 for Toyota Prius, Hyundai Ioniq and limousine cabs.
According to Uber, when prices are surging, riders will see a multiplier to the standard rates on the map. For example, you might see a surge at 1.8x or 2.5x, and this is how much your base fare will be multiplied by. So a fare that is usually S$10 would be S$18 when it’s at 1.8x surge, it explained on its website.
A company spokesperson subsequently clarified that the multiplier is no longer seen on its mobile app, but a message - "Fares are higher due to increased demand" - would appear when prices surge.
"UberFLASH is the first in a series of collaborative efforts between ComfortDelGro and Uber," said ComfortDelGro Taxi's chief executive Ang Wei Neng, who added that the new feature leads to a "win-win situation" for both commuters and taxi drivers.
It is worth noting, though, that ComfortDelGro drivers have to meet the requirements and terms and conditions set out by Uber, before they are included in the new feature. They will also be briefed on how the app works, the ride-hailing company said.
Rival Grab on Thursday issued a statement following the launch that it pioneered and got approvals for taxis to use such surge pricing and has been working with taxi companies including HDT, Premier, Prime, SMRT and Trans-cab on its JustGrab platform for more than 10 months.
"Grab's priority will always be to improve services and driver livelihoods, and we welcome other companies to join us," she added.
Uber and ComfortDelGro had announced in December last year they had entered into a strategic agreement to form a joint venture, in which ComfortDelGro will acquire a 51 per cent stake in Uber's wholly owned subsidiary Lion City Holdings for S$642 million, and ranks as the local company's single largest deal to date. The deal is subject to regulatory approval, the companies added then.
The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) subsequently sought public feedback on the proposed deal after the deal was announced, and the window closed on Jan 8 this year.
An Uber spokesman said the companies had sought permission from the regulators to launch this new service, but the overall regulatory clearance for the joint venture is still ongoing.