When was the last time many of us took a cab? As in, a taxi from ComfortDelgro, Trans-Cab, CityCab, SMRT or any other official taxi company? Most of us would opt for an Uber ride or a GrabHitch because of price, convenience and even just the whole idea that it’s a civilian car. As a result, it’s a lot harder for the full-time taxi drivers to actually earn a living.

But that’s how the world is, right? Everyone has to stay competitive to survive. But full-time taxi drivers are at a disadvantage because they have to rent the taxis for full days, regardless how many rides they complete. Fortunately (for the taxi drivers), ComfortDelgro is making the first move (as of 2 Feb 2017) to level the playing field – they are allowing flexible rental schemes for their drivers.

This means that full-time ComfortDelgro taxi drivers (and not part-time or full-time Uber and Grab drivers) wouldn’t have to commit a fixed sum to rent their taxis every day. In fact, this opens a lot of new opportunities for them. Since ComfortDelgro is making its move, we might actually see other taxi companies following suit. All in the name of levelling the playing field. Stay competitive, right?

More importantly, how will this affect consumers like us? Does this mean that our taxi fares will drop? Looking at how Singapore’s public and private transportation costs have always moved in one direction, other than the few times (and possibly later this year for public transport) over the years, we can only wish.

But what we can expect is Uber and Grab to “step up” their game by offering more promotions and deals. More discounts and cheap rides, even cheaper shared rides to make consumers like us be tempted to take a taxi instead of public buses or MRT. Uber and Grab might also offer more attractive schemes for people who want to drive with them for some side income as well, just to tilt the scale back to their favour, who knows?

While this competition between the taxi companies and private online transport service providers would benefit consumers, it’s a very different story for shareholders of the taxi companies (and maybe even Uber if they were to apply for IPO in 2017). Earnings will drop and stock prices should follow.

In the meantime, maybe those of us who have free time on our hands can consider driving with Uber, Grab or even ComfortDelgro for some side income! Never hurts to earn some extra cash on the side, would it? Or we could just wait patiently for more promotion and deals to appear in our email inboxes or directly through our Uber and Grab apps!

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