Tired of going to work with some guy’s armpit in your face? Well, consider yourself lucky. Believe it or not, the MRT and bus network could be even more crowded than it is right now.
According to a recent news report, the demand for taxi and taxi-like services like Uber has doubled since 2013. More people plying the roads in these taxis or private hire cars means less people competing for that prime spot by the door on the MRT.
The best thing is that during that time, fares haven’t actually risen, because the number of people taking taxis has actually stayed more or less the same. What’s really doubled the population of customers is the introduction of services like Uber and GrabCar.
So, what’s caused this dramatic change in commuter behaviour? Here are the three biggest factors.
Private car hire services have made it cheaper to travel at certain times of day
While the average price of a cab and an Uber ride are more or less the same, what private car hire services have done is to lower the cost of travelling during certain periods and from certain places when taxi services would otherwise slap on hefty surcharges.
Personally, I always opt for Uber or GrabCar whenever I have to get home after midnight as it is always cheaper due to the 50% midnight surcharge imposed by taxis, as well as whenever I need to get home from Changi Airport, since taxis charge an additional $3 to $5 for picking you up there. UberPOOL and GrabShare have also lowered the price of getting home even further.
There are now fewer late-night bus services
For those who are trying to get home at 3am, unless you’re willing and able to get back by the power of your own legs or have your own vehicle, you pretty much have no choice but to catch a taxi or private car hire service.
Simply put, we don’t have much in the way of late-night bus services in Singapore, and the MRT network shuts down around midnight.
The Night Rider bus services used to offer people (okay, mostly broke students) a cheap way to get home after their Friday and Saturday night parties. These services ran till about 4:30am and were surprisingly fast, since they skipped most stops until getting to the residential areas they served.
But in 2014, their hours were drastically reduced, and they now only run until 2am on Fridays, Saturdays and the eve of public holidays.
If the upcoming electric car-sharing scheme and bike-sharing scheme are eventually rolled out on an island-wide basis, commuters will have more late-night options and the number of taxi and private car-hire passengers might fall. Until then, we have no other options.
Commuters are using them to get to MRT stations
Over the past few years, the MRT network has expanded considerably. Someone living in Bukit Panjang can now get to MacPherson without dying of old age.
But getting to an MRT station in a timely manner is still an issue for a significant number of residents in Singapore. Buses tend to be crowded during peak hour and some services can be unpredictable or infrequent. That could be why 25% of Uber trips end or begin at MRT stations.
In fact, many of the commuters who use taxis or private car hire services do so to reduce travelling time and convenience to and from MRT stations, rather than take them for their entire trip, in order to cut costs.
For instance, a Bukit Gombak resident working in the CBD would have to pay $25 to $30 to get to work during peak hour, and so might prefer to cab to Bukit Gombak, Bukit Batok or Jurong East MRT station for less than $10 instead, and then continue by MRT.
Part of the reason more people are doing this is the increased ease of getting a ride during peak hour. In the past, if you woke up late for work, it could take 45 minutes to call a cab. With private car hire services, you can get a driver much faster so long as you’re willing to pay surge pricing.
How often do you take taxis, Uber or GrabCar? Tell us in the comments!