SMRT revises taxis’ flag-down rate, booking fees, surcharges

Fann Sim

Following Comfort DelGro’s fare revision, the second largest taxi company in Singapore, SMRT, announced on Monday changes to its taxi fares.

To take effect from 20 December, SMRT cab-takers will see changes – both increases and decreases – mainly to the taxis’ flag-down rate, booking fee and peak hour surcharges.

For standard taxis, the flag-down rate will increase by 20 cents to $3 for a Crown/Cedric taxi and $3.40 for an Epica/Azera taxi. The Mercedes, London, Ssangyong and Starex cabs will see a 70 cent increase in flag-down rate to hit $3.90.

Distance-based charges will increase by between 2 cents and 3 cents per kilometer, on the average.

Booking fees for standard taxis will be reduced by 20 cents to $3.30 but bookings for Mercedes, London, Ssangyong and Starex cabs will soon cost $10, instead of the current $8.

SMRT said in a statement, “Our drivers need a more substantial level of income, not just lower costs or rental rates, in order to cope with the increasing cost of living and higher diesel prices, and continue their businesses.”

“SMRT Taxis has to keep pace with the fare revision by other taxi operators, so that our 4,000-plus drivers will not feel deprived of a better income opportunity, and also to maintain our fleet growth,” the operator added.

SMRT also said that its rental rates “have not been excessive”.

“Our financial records have always shown a weak or non-profitable performance in our taxi business," said the company.

Other SMRT taxi fare changes include:

1) Lowered peak hour surcharge: From 35 per cent of metered fare to 25 per cent of metered fare, Mondays to Fridays (6am to 9:30am) and Mondays to Sundays and Public Holidays (6pm to midnight).

However, the duration of the surcharge will be lengthened. It will start an hour earlier, at 6am from Mondays to Fridays and run from 6pm to midnight all week, including Sundays and public holidays.

2) $1 public holiday surcharge is removed

3) $3 location surcharge to Marina Bay Sands shortened from 6am to midnight, to 6am to 4:59pm on Sundays and Public Holidays.

4) $2 per additional passenger for Ssangyong and London Cab fleets, from current $2 flat rate.

Last week, the largest taxi operator in Singapore ComfortDelGro announced revisions to its taxi fare structure that included both increases and decreases in fares and surcharges.

This latest fare revision has further fanned flames of unhappiness among online users. The news drew nearly 100 comments on Yahoo! Singapore’s Facebook page in two hours.

In response to SMRT's new fares, some Yahoo! Singapore readers, such as Facebook user Zhi Zhong, suggested boycotting the two cab companies.

“When their ridership drops (by) more than 50 per cent, they will hold back the revision," he said.

Some have even gone to the extent of creating a Facebook page to start a boycott against Comfort DelGro.

Another user Andrew Chia Hao Feng pointed out, “Taxi companies should reduce taxi drivers’ rental to help the driver cope with the rising cost of living and not push them (higher costs) to us the passenger, which is totally unfair to us.”

However, another user Undriati Fawzi pointed out, "if we boycott taxis, the one suffering is the taxi driver, not the taxi company or government."

Unfortunately, SMRT’s revision does not seem to be the last to come.

In a Straits Times report last week, other taxi operators -- Trans-Cab, Premier and Smart said "they were considering a fare change or were likely to go ahead with such a move."

Prime would let its drivers decide, the report said.